The Hypnotist’s Love Story: A Novel. Liane Moriarty. Viking Penguin Group (USA). June 2013. 480 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780425260937.
Ellen O’Farrell is living a good life, with a successful hypnotherapist career and owning a home she inherited from her grandparents. So what’s missing? A great love. She spends a great deal of time reflecting on how it could be that she’s so good at helping others to solve problems but not so great on her own male relationships. So now she’s ripe for romance when she meets Patrick. Everything feels so right, even when Patrick tells her that his ex-girlfriend is a stalker who follows him everywhere, leaves him constant text messages and phone messages, and even leaves notes attached to his windshield on the car. It strikes the reader as dangerous, as a phenomenon that feels like a foreshadowing of a violent end to someone!
So why is it that Ellen doesn’t feel grossly perturbed by all this but instead focuses on the growth of the care she and Patrick now increasingly share? As the stalking increases, Ellen and Patrick’s life together grows closer. Patrick meets Ellen’s mother and she meets his family. Ironically, both sides seem rather obsessed with the previous relationships had before now. There’s an additional complication with Jack, Patrick’s son by his first wife, Colleen, his first wife who died and whom he loved dearly. But it was Saskia who took care of Jack like a mother and now she has no connection to him at all. One wonders where this is all going.
It will take a “rock bottom” scene for these complex connections to sort themselves out, with all sides having to face some significantly painful truths, clear some outstanding misunderstandings, and learn to move forward having memories of these personalities that cannot help but be part of the past but learning they cannot be part of the present and don’t have to determine the future!
It sounds like a simple plot involving three people, but it’s not as it slowly develops from simple outrageousness to an audacious, panoramic map of how many people from our past inhabit our present lives in more than complex ways. It’s a book about healing the past in order to fully engage and relish now and forever. Very, very nicely crafted mystery/romance fiction, Ms. Moriarty!