Title: The Hypnotist’s Love Story
Author: Liane Moriarty
Release Date: June 14, 2012
Publisher: Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Ellen O’Farrell is actually a hypnotherapist, helping people deal with serious issues such as addiction and infertility, but to those who aren’t familiar with her work, she’s just a hypnotist. But Ellen doesn’t take it too personally; after all, her life is good. She loves her job, and she’s in a relationship with a great man, Patrick. When Patrick says he has something serious to tell her, Ellen fears for the worst, but when he informs her that he is being stalked, she doesn’t think it’s that bad. After all, how bad can Saskia, Patrick’s ex-girlfriend, be?
The Hypnotist’s Love Story is a serious novel dealing with deep, difficult issues, cloaked in the lighthearted storyline of a beachy read. Ellen is a hypnotherapist, and she is fascinated by mental issues. So when Patrick tells her about Saskia, she sees it from a clinical point of view. She wonders what could possibly drive a woman to be so broken that she is compelled to stalk her ex-boyfriend. Even when her privacy is being invaded, Ellen can’t bring herself to be angry. She’s more curious and feels sympathy for Saskia.
But while Ellen is trying to understand Saskia, Patrick is having to deal with the prospect that he cannot get away from this troubled woman. Because Ellen’s new to this situation, she doesn’t understand the depth of Patrick’s frustration, nor his fear that he will never lead a normal life because of Saskia. It’s completely understandable, and the reader feels no irritation towards Ellen because of it (though her patience is quite remarkable, considering the extent of Saskia’s intrusions), but it makes this a bit tense between Ellen and Patrick.
It would be easy to write Saskia off as a crazy woman in The Hypnotist’s Love Story, yet Liane Moriarty doesn’t make it that easy for the reader. Saskia is also a narrator in this novel, and the reader gets a peek into her sad, troubled mind. Her ability to rationalize her actions is incredible, yet the reader can see the hurt underneath. Patrick didn’t treat Saskia well – he is the first to admit this, so it’s hard to hate him for it – and when they broke up, her world collapsed. All she’s trying to do is set things right, in her eyes. The worst part is that the reader gets the impression that Saskia is a normal woman who has just taken things too far, and there’s no way back for her.
There’s so much more to The Hypnotist’s Love Story than what I’ve described here. It’s a beautiful story, with a lot of depth. There are issues with Ellen’s work (is hypnotherapy “real” or is it a farce?), fertility, death, addiction, and more. Liane Moriarty did a great job combining a serious psychological thriller with a fun, easy read, and as a result, it’s a perfect pick for the summer.
Other books by Liane Moriarty: