Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Title: The Hypnotist’s Love Story

Author: Liane Moriarty

Published: PanMacmillan Australia October 2011 (To be published in the US 2012 by Amy Einhorn Books: Penguin)

Synopsis: Ellen O’Farrell is an expert when it comes to human frailties. She’s a hypnotherapist who helps her clients deal with everything from addictions to life-long phobias. So when she falls in love with a man who is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend she’s more intrigued than frightened. What makes a supposedly smart, professional woman behave this way? She’d love to meet her! What she doesn’t know is that she already has. Saskia has been masquerading as a client, and their lives are set to collide in ways Ellen could never have predicted. This wonderfully perceptive new novel from Liane Moriarty is about the lines we’ll cross for love. It’s about the murky areas between right and wrong, and the complexities of modern relationships

Status: Read from September 15 to 17, 2011 — I own a copy{Courtesy Pan Macmillan Australia}

My Thoughts:

The common image of a stalker brings to mind violent ex husband’s and obsessed fans but in The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Patrick is an ordinary suburban surveyor who for three years has endured the excessive attention of his ex girlfriend, Saskia. Many women can relate to perhaps being overly interested in their ex-partners movements post break up, but usually the concern wanes as they move forward. Moriarty explores what happens when someone is unable to let go of a relationship, how grief for an envisioned future can turn into a obsession that has very little to do with love. Saskia is a fascinating character, her behaviour is plainly wrong yet Moriarty shows how Saskia is as much a victim of her obsession as Patrick and Ellen are. It’s surprisingly easy to sympathise with her emotional pain, particularly as her story unfolds through a first person perspective.
As a woman who is still in contact with her ex boyfriends sister, Ellen recognises the impulse to still be privy to the details of an ex-partners life. Assured Saskia isn’t violent, Ellen’s initial mild concern gives way to an almost professional fascination. Ellen is a hypnotherapist and considers Saskia’s obsessive behaviour similar in nature to an addiction or phobia which she successfully treats in her practice. In fact Ellen is more concerned about the spectre of Patrick’s deceased wife than his living stalker. While Saskia remains unseen it is understandable that she is more of an abstract concept for Ellen, but once Ellen discovers that Saskia has been masquerading as a client and follows her interstate, I expected her to take the situation more seriously. I don’t think anyone I know would be so accepting of Saskia’s harassment and I’m not sure Moriarty is completely successful in explaining why Ellen is so ambivalent particularly in the latter half of the novel. I would have preferred Ellen’s motivation to connect with Saskia been more clearly defined, even though I recognise that Moriarty’s intention is to illustrate the complexity of the relationship that can form between the stalker and their victim.
While the relationship between Ellen, Patrick and Saskia, dominates the story, the author also explores how separations and newly formed relationships affect family and friends. The end of Saskia’s relationship with Patrick also ended her association with his son, parents and siblings, an additional blow when she had so little support available, while the decision by Ellen’s mother to not inform the father of her pregnancy prevented Ellen from forming a connection with him. There are several lesser themes that Moriarty touches on that weave together to create a well rounded story.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story is a complex tale of obsession, grief and love which Moriarty admits was inspired by a real life experience. I found it a compelling and intriguing examination of the intricacies of relationships. There is much more to this story than is neatly summarised in the blurb and Moriarty tells it with consummate skill.

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Other Books by Liane Moriarty


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marce
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 23:33:12

    This is the first I have heard of this, interesting. The Hypnotist is becoming a popular title though, a little off putting to me actually.

    Have a great day.



  2. mari (Bookworm with a View)
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 23:38:00

    I just added this book to my list. I wonder when it will be available in the US 🙂



    • shelleyrae@ Book'd Out
      Sep 22, 2011 @ 10:50:21

      I’m not sure Mari but it probably won’t take long since Fox are making a movie of Liane’s What Alice Forgot.



    • shelleyrae@ Book'd Out
      Sep 23, 2011 @ 14:47:07

      Mari – I asked the publisher and it will be published in the US in 2012 by Amy Einhorn Books: Penguin



  3. parrish
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 14:29:38

    Great post, liking that it explores the relationships between the various individuals & doesn’t become the cliched Bunny Boiler.



  4. The Australian Bookshelf
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 18:53:55

    I received this book for review too, it sounds like you really enjoyed it Shelleyrae. I’d still like to read What Alice Forgot as that sounds great too. I had no idea it was being made into a movie! So i will have to read it before it comes out!



    • shelleyrae@ Book'd Out
      Sep 23, 2011 @ 14:48:02

      I must admit What Alice Forgot didn’t really scream movie script to me so that will be interesting!



  5. Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic
    Sep 23, 2011 @ 02:49:51

    I really have not seen this one around. Thanks for putting this on my radar. I’m still unsure what to think but at least I know about it. I also like the cover.



  6. quirky girls read-jehara
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 23:20:22

    What a thoughtful and thorough review.



  7. Trackback: Exclusive Reveal: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty « book'd out
  8. Trackback: Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty | book'd out

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