“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.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
I loved this book! Possibly as much, if not more, than Big Little Lies.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started The Hypnotist’s Love story, but after every chapter I kept thinking, well this is pleasantly surprising! At first glance, you see the word “stalker” and wonder what kind of domestic thriller this is going to be, when actually it turns out to be a very thoughtful examination of relationships and families and parents and children, with, yes, some stalking mixed in just for fun!
I had never heard of hypnotherapy prior to reading this book, so I was very intrigued during during every one of Ellen’s sessions with a client. I wouldn’t have any need to visit Ellen, but I can tell you that descriptive writing used to describe sitting in Ellen’s glass office by the sea sounds like the most relaxing way to approach dealing with one’s problems.
A few thoughts I had while reading…
My heart ached for Saskia during this entire book. Even when she was so-called terrorizing Patrick, I knew from the get-go that there had to be more behind her stalking him than her being obsessed with Patrick, just as Ellen suspected, too.
Here is where I have to confess that I saw nothing special in Patrick’s character, at least nothing worth all the fiasco that Saskia and Ellen and all their families went through during the course of the book. He wasn’t exactly a man worth fighting for. My main takeaway was that Ellen and Saskia weren’t actually at odds throughout the book, especially not over Patrick.
As for Patrick’s son, I find it shocking that no one, especially Patrick, sat down with Jack after the breakup with Saskia to discuss what had happened. I thought it was poorly handled by Patrick and yes, he was still grieving over Colleen, but he was awfully shortsighted to think that both Jack and Saskia would magically be fine if he simply held up his hands and said “stop, we’re breaking up” and left it at that.
Saskia’s pain over losing Jack was so real and heartbreaking. Without Jack, she lost her purpose, and then completely lost her way in life. As I said above, I don’t think her downfall was really anything to do with Patrick at all.
Meanwhile, I kept going back and forth as to whether Ellen should even have kept seeing Patrick. Not because of Saskia, but because he just seemed so boring and he didn’t really have anything to offer her beyond his complicated past. While every relationship comes with some baggage, his being a widower is significant in this case; I didn’t see a reason for Ellen to put up with the stalking, the constant talk about his dead wife, and the instant-family that happened with Jack, over a love of Patrick – was he really worth all of that? Evidently so, to Ellen, but I wasn’t convinced!
I thought this was such a well-crafted story, and the character development was so satisfying. I put down the book with zero lingering questions or concerns, everything wrapped up so remarkably well but not in a cutesy way.
Some other random things that I loved:
- The dynamic between Ellen’s mom and her godmothers, and of course Ellen’s friends, was so charming
- The quick-witted conversations between virtually everyone always made me smile
- Even though Jack was a minor character, his dialogue was spot-on for an eight-year–old and it really made him come to life
- The setting – nothing beats that beachy coastal vibe that Moriarty’s books are known for
- Lastly, I am now dying to go visit The Festival of the Olive at Elizabeth Farm that Ellen goes to at the end of the book; why did that sound like the cutest most fun little outing ever?
I really enjoyed this book and I’m eager to read more of Liane Moriarty’s work this year.