In The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Liane Moriarty moves out of the chick-lit category and dips her toe into darker waters (which is why I had it).
It’s the story of Ellen, a professional hypnotherapist. Ellen falls in love with Patrick, a widower and father to an eight-year-old boy. Patrick has a stalker – Saskia, an ex-girlfriend who can’t let go.
Obviously the stalker element of the plot could move this story in to sinister territory however instead, Moriarty uses the character of Saskia to explore the grief associated with a broken relationship (at this point I’ll admit that many years ago I delayed ending a relationship because I knew that I was going to really miss the guy’s family… Not him, just his sister. No stalking involved, obvs).
Saskia’s grief over her broken relationship with Patrick (and his son) plays against Ellen’s own fascination with Patrick’s dead wife and her occasional thoughts about her previous relationships. It’s supposed to make Saskia seem not-so-crazy and have us all thinking back to last time we’ve glanced at Facebook to see what someone from our past is up to but really, breaking into someone’s house to bake biscuits is totally bananas. And a criminal offense. *sorry, that was a spoiler right there*
The most interesting part of the story centred around the ethics of client-patient relationships. Should you hypnotise your lover and tell him to move all the wretched packing boxes that he’s left in your hallway? Should you hypnotise your lover and let him voice opinions about his dead wife? Quite certain the answers to those questions are no, no, no, no, no – but that wouldn’t make for a very exciting story, would it?
This book is certainly easy reading but there were too many plot niggles. Conveniently, various key characters were Ellen’s patients (just wheel in whatever type of person is required); there was a whole other arc about Ellen’s biological father that I could have done without; and you just have to wonder why both Ellen and Patrick let the stalking situation go on as long as they did.
2/5 This book would have been twenty times better (and got another star from me) if it had been 250 pages shorter (because a punchy novel about a hypnotist, her lover and his stalker sounds great).
Saskia leaves Ellen some Anzac biscuits. It should be nice to be greeted by the smell of just-baked-biscuits but in this case…