by Liane Moriarty
I didn’t have enough other people in my life to cover the loss of this many people at once. I didn’t have any spare aunties or cousins or grandparents. I didn’t have backup. I didn’t have insurance to cover a loss like this.
I’ve read 4 of Liane Moriarty’s novels. This is the 3rd best I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. Such an excellent writer. I will give this one 3.75 stars. In reading the reviews, the two main complaints seem to be that 1) Nothing Happens. And 2) No big twists like in her other novels.
I Think the big twist was that there was no twist. She really set the reader up for the possibility that Patrick and Ellen were not to be. She gave Patrick some very unlikable and unadmirable qualities and actions. I felt sure that worse was to come. Ellen was too nice, too reasonable, too in control. Also she was very powerful, with her ability to influence people with her use of hypnosis. I was sure she was headed for a big fall. And at some points, I would have welcomed that. But no. After her very career and livelihood and reputation was threatened by the irate husband of a client, It was quickly resolved by another unlikely and underestimated patient.
A memory resurfaced now of Mary-Kate saying she worked in the “legal profession.” Ellen had just assumed she was a legal secretary. Would she have been more patient and respectful with Mary-Kate if she’d known she was dealing with a barrister? Shamefully, the answer was yes.
We learn that Ellen was not the paragon she was at first painted, and that made her more intriguing and sympathetic. Yes, Ellen learns a few things. As does Patrick.
“I took Saskia’s lucky marble with me when I saw my first ever Scott Surveys client,” said Patrick. “I held it while I waited in reception.” He’d never before referred to a nice memory involving Saskia. It was Ellen’s first glimpse of the other side of their story. “I lost the marble at school,” said Jack. “I looked and looked, and a teacher tried to help me, but we couldn’t find it. I didn’t want to tell Saskia because I knew she’d be sad, and then the next day she was gone. So I thought, Uh-oh, she found out I lost it.” Patrick’s eyes met Ellen’s over the top of Jack’s head. “You thought it was your fault,” said Ellen to Jack.
“I think that’s why I kept putting off taking out the restraining order,” said Patrick. “Because, deep down, I knew I’d treated her badly, even though I didn’t admit it, even to myself.
A potentially devastating meeting with her sperm-donor father ends with a whimper rather than a bang. But that is a good thing!
“Olé!” said Ellen’s father. He lifted his hands above his head and pretended to click imaginary castanets. It was a profoundly dorky dad-like move that would have caused any self-respecting teenage son or daughter to die with shame. “Olé,” said Ellen agreeably. She settled back in her chair to watch the dancing, and as she did she felt one last, lingering doubt about Patrick’s love—a doubt she didn’t know she’d had—quietly drift away. So this was what it was like to have a father.
And our antagonist, Saskia. She finally does hit her rock-bottom by falling down the stairs after Patrick and Ellen wake up in the night to find her staring down at them. She almost takes out Jack, the young son of Patrick, who she mothered for years and still loves. (“Nothing Happens?!”). But no she didn’t set Ellen’s beloved home on fire to kill them all. It was just a sand storm. And Saskia does come out the other side, well on the road to mental health in a particularly touching and unexpected way.
Even Ellen’s briefly met clients each have their own happy endings as well!
So I guess if you’re looking for tragedy, death, destruction, radical reversal of fortunes and personalities, and white-knuckle action, you might be disappointed in The Hypnotist’s Love Story. **end spoiler**
As for me, I was intrigued and drawn in by how all the threads were going to play out. How the characters would learn and grow (or not.) One of the themes of this novel is the importance of having back up. I am reminded of one of the last lines of one of my very favorite movies: About a Boy:
I used to think two wasn’t enough. Now there were loads of people… I don’t know what Will was so upset about. All I meant was I don’t think couples are the future. You need more than that. You need backup. The way I saw it, Will and I both had backup now. It’s like that thing he told me Jon Bon Jovi said: “No man is an island.”
This is her lowest rated novel other than the disappointing Truly Madly Guilty. Since I liked it so much, I am sure looking forward to continuing with the rest of her backlist.
March 5, 2018