Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Book Review: The Hypnotist's Love Story


The reason behind this book being on my (rather large) reading list was because I had enjoyed reading Big Little Lies so much, which is also written by Liane Moriarty. The title is actually a little misleading; Ellen is actually a professional hypnotherapist who helps her clients lose weight, quit smoking and face their fears, amongst some other things. As a reader we're told fairly early on that she's single, aged thirty five, with a rather unsuccessful dating history; but she's ready to settle down, provided that she can find the right man. Naturally, this is when she meets Patrick; a widow with an eight year old son and hiding a secret. At first glance, Patrick appears to be the perfect man but a little distracted. I suppose you could argue that this is because he's a busy man, working full time and balancing raising a child as a single parent, but in all honestly the book only become interesting for me when Saskia is introduced. It was interesting to see a female stalker at work, as well as seeing the narrative voices switch between the perspectives of both Ellen and Saskia. Although technically there are three 'main' characters, as a reader we only ever see Patrick through the eyes of the two women as he never takes over the narrative at any point.

There are parts of this book that feel fairly unbelievable; for example Ellen is not disturbed by the thought that her boyfriend, Patrick has a stalker, she's intrigued. However, Ellen also doesn't realise that Saskia is just as interested in Ellen; to the extent that she even poses as a client, using a false name to have the oppportunity to get to know Ellen and snoop around her house, as all Ellen works through her home. As a woman myself, I honestly found it all a bit bizarre; the fact that Ellen was actually fine with her new boyfriend having a stalker, that she was interested even, seems impossible to me. The worst part is that with time, you begin to feel sorry for Saskia, sympathise with her almost; she met the right man at the wrong time and she's been punishing him and herself, ever since. However, on the other hand, it is difficult to fathom why she would go to the lengths she does, to stalk Patrick; or even why she stalks him at all, other than the fact she's struggling to move on with her own life. The one thing I really loved about this book is that Saskia was included as a narrative voice; it made her character seem real, less one dimensional. 

The introduction of Saskia was really well done and was a great plot twist, although the apart from that, at times the book could be a little slow. It didn't grip me as much as I wanted it to; I just couldn't understand why Saskia couldn't let go of this man as on the surface she was an ordinary woman. She was successful at work and had her own house, and comfortably so. Obviously there are many layers to a stalker, one of these was that she met him as her mother died so I feel like she replaced her grief with love for Patrick. But even so, I feel like the introduction of Ellen, particularly when she becomes pregnant, clearly affected Saskia; but even more bizarrely, in another world you could imagine the two women being friends as they are fairly similar. The character that I throughly disliked was actually Patrick; in my opinion he was thoughtless and selfish. Using Saskia as a replacement wife and mother when his wife and Jack's mother died and then leaving her when his grieving period was over. I also got the impression that he constantly compares both Ellen and Saskia to his wife, Colleen. Which isn't nice, particularly when you consider that Ellen is pregnant and both him and his son then moved into her home.

Overall, I did find this novel fairly slow paced. However, I didn't dislike it as there were some fantastic parts. Saskia cooking and cleaning in Ellen's house, snooping in her bathroom and seeing what tampons she uses (amongst other things) were both creepy and did turn up the stalking a notch; a the book went on there were times when Saskia definitely became more dangerous, to both herself and those around her. It was a relief to see the stalking reach the point where the law needed to intervene; however I wasn't keen on Ellen's interest in Saskia. It wasn't healthy to be so fascinated by the fact that an ex-girlfriend is stalking your now boyfriend. It was great to see all parties, particularly Saskia, regain a social life and move on from an incident, but on the whole I felt the plot was a bit lacking. All in all, as a reader I was intrigued to see how Ellen shaped a relationship with Jack and her own father, both of which were skimmed over quite a lot. On a positive note, I really liked Ellen's 'three mothers'; the dynamic between them was great and I wanted to see a lot more of them than I did, but they were a fabulous addition to the character sphere. Despite this being a rather critical review, I did enjoy reading this book I would recommend it as the writing is great, but I would say that you need to be prepared to fully commit; it's quite a long book, slow in places but a good read that's worth seeing through to the end as it's worth it.

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