2017 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction

Book Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Title: The Hypnotist’s Love Storyhypnotists

Author: Liane Moriarty

Published: October 1st 2011

Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia

Pages: 480

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary, Australian

RRP: $14.99

Rating: 4.5 stars

Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk.

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.

My review:

Australian author Liane Moriarty is a household name, thanks to her dazzling novel and now television mini series, Big Little Lies. I thought it was a high time I tried another book from her backlist and my selection, The Hypnotist’s Love Story certainly was an interesting read.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story does in fact feature a practicing hypnotherapist as the star of the story. Ellen O’Farrell is a successful hypnotherapist, owning her own practice in Sydney. She has a trio of failed relationships in her wake, however, her latest, with a handsome widower named Patrick seems to be more promising. That is until the day when the two are enjoying a romantic dinner and Patrick awkwardly drops a bombshell – he is the victim of a stalker. Initially, Ellen is not fazed by this revelation, as Patrick’s stalker has yet to impact on her life. Things change when Ellen and Patrick’s relationship steps up a notch and they eventually move in together. As well as negotiating a determined stalker, Ellen and Patrick face other issues in their burgeoning romance. These complications include legal threats to Ellen’s reputation as a respected hypnotherapist, the reappearance of Ellen’s absent father and Colleen, Patrick’s deceased wife.  As we travel along with the characters of this novel, we become involved in a contemporary romance tale full of love, heartache, loss, grief and devotion.

Initially, I thought The Hypnotist’s Love Story was going to be a simple contemporary love story but I was surprised that this book offered something a little different. Yes it is about relationships and love – in a number of different forms, but it is also a story of obsession and more importantly, the fixation on the glory days of the past.

Moriarty has a knack of creating great characters and this continues to be the case in The Hypnotist’s Love Story. Ellen is a woman I likened myself to immediately. Being roughly the same age as her, I was easily able to put myself in her shoes, both career and personal life wise. Ellen’s career in particular completely fascinated me and I enjoyed reading the acknowledgements in the back of the book that referenced Moriarty’s research in the area of hypnotherapy. The Hypnotist’s Love Story certainly gave me a better understanding of and a new found respect for the field of hypnotherapy. I enjoyed the parts related to Ellen where she laments on her doomed previous relationships and where they went wrong, which was realistic as well as interesting. As well as being narrated by Ellen, the book is also told from Saskia, the stalker of the story and Patrick’s ex girlfriend’s point of view. Moriarty has again excelled in the character domain, in her creation of the character of Saskia. For Saskia is a woman we hate, as well as love. Moriarty has portrayed the character of Saskia in such a way that it is impossible not to develop any sympathy for this woman. Through Moriarty’s depiction of this sad woman, I felt her grief over the loss of her mother, as well as the demise of her relationship with Patrick. Saskia’s behaviour is despicable, but you cannot help but root for her, which is something Ellen also struggles with. Patrick, the main male protagonist and love interest is clearly integral to this story. We are not however privy to his direct feelings in the story, as Moriarty has chosen not to include this point of view in the novel. We understand how Patrick feels and reacts via Ellen and Saskia. I did like the fact that Patrick wasn’t depicted as the ideal knight in shining armour love interest. He does have baggage and he is flawed, but there was still something about him that I could see was appealing to the female characters in the novel.

As you can see, The Hypnotist’s Love Story is a book strong in the character realm. The supporting characters add a little quirk and humour to the novel, as well as complications to this non linear romance. Perhaps what I will take away most from my reading of The Hypnotist’s Love Story,  was the focus on those parts that are beyond the hearts and flowers side of new relationships – the baggage,  the previous relationships and the emotions attached to the past that we inevitably bring into our relationships, no matter how hard we try. An unconventional loves story, with light as well as dark moments, The Hypnotist’s Love Story is another sign of greatness from the talented Ms Moriarty.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty was published in October 2011, details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

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