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The Hypnotist's Love Story - book review by Debra Bradley

The Hypnotist’s Love Story

Ellen is a hypnotherapist who meets a man through an online dating site because it’s not easy to meet men in the normal course of her working day, other than clients. This man appeals to her. She appeals to him. But that’s not the end of the story. Over dinner, just as she’s beginning to think ‘he’s the one’, he gets all flustered and rushes off to the bathroom, leaving her high and dry for long enough for her to conclude that he wants to get away from her.

When Patrick eventually returns he says he has a confession to make that could be a deal-breaker for a relationship with him. It turns out Patrick has a stalker – an ex-girlfriend who just won’t let him go. She follows him everywhere, and he doesn’t know how to make her stop.

Ellen doesn’t mind. She actually quite likes it, in a weird way – that her relationship is so important that someone else is following it. The really interesting thing about this novel is that we also follow Ellen and Patrick through the eyes of Saskia, the stalker. She is an entirely sympathetic character, who was abruptly dumped by Patrick a few years ago.

Saskia met Patrick not long after his wife died. She helped him to bring up his young son. She did everything she could to make Patrick happy again. And then he woke up one day and decided that his relationship with Saskia was a sham because he wasn’t happy, that he had been ghosting through his life with her, and that to be authentic this needed to be over.

His crime was that he didn’t take into account that her feelings for him were much stronger than his for her. He ripped away everything that made her life meaningful just a month after her mother died. Floored, Saskia’s only way of keeping herself together was to keep believing that they could reconnect if she could just talk with him. She also went along to his son’s soccer games, which appalled Patrick but Jack didn’t mind.

So this novel is about Ellen and Saskia – who actually feel a lot more empathy for each other than might be expected. As Saskia says, they might have been friends if the situation was different. This novel is about what it feels like to suddenly lose everything that makes your life work. It’s also about the power of the mind – explored through Ellen’s hypnotherapy practice as well as Saskia’s predicament.

It is written with Liane Moriarty’s signature style – quirky insights alongside relationship tensions. I admit it is easy-reading chick lit – but it has the flavour of tasty croissant rather than junk food. There’s plenty to think and feel that’s a little outside the box, alongside the domestic drama played out through the novel.

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