May 13, 12
Read in May, 2012
Ellen is a hypnotherapist living in Sydney, Australia. Working out of her beachfront home, she helps her patients deal with issues like quitting smoking, pain management and weight loss. Ellen has a comfy life for herself—friends, a lovely home, and a thriving practice. (Ellen's father was out of the picture her whole life and she was raised in a rather feminist household by her mother and godmothers.) Despite having a satisfying and happy life, Ellen craves love and romance. So when she meets Patrick (a widower with a young son), she is thrilled to find a man who is loving, kind, warm and ready to love again. There is just one little catch: Patrick has a stalker named Saskia. Saskia is Patrick's ex-girlfriend, and she is having a very difficult time letting go of Patrick. Many women might be turned off by baggage like this, but Ellen finds Saskia intriguing—even sympathizing with her at times. But when Patrick and Ellen's relationship gets more involved and complicated, Ellen begins to lose patience with Saskia—especially when she discovers that she may already know her.
Liane Moriarty has done it again!! This book is just as interesting and delightful as What Alice Forgot, and I found the pages flying by. Ellen is a fully drawn character, whose neuroses and strengths and interior monologue felt recognizable and familiar. You can relate to her instantly. And, in a bit of a risk that pays off, Moriarty also gives us glimpses inside Saskia's head as well, which creates sympathy for what could have been a very unsympathetic character. It is a tricky thing for an author to write two sympathetic characters who are at odds with each other, but Moriarty manages to pull it off.
The book just flew by, and I loved how Moriarty manages to mix humor and real-life issues in a way that is entertaining, touching and believable. Although you often find yourself laughing while reading, Ellen faces some real issues and must make difficult decisions along the way. I like this mix, and Moriarty has just the right touch. I'm sure this book is probably classified as "chick lit" (which often gets a bad rap), but I would hate to see anyone pass this by for that reason. It is smart, funny and touching book and deserves to be read. I'd go so far as to call it a "real woman's romance."
One of the more interesting aspects of the book for me was Ellen's profession of hypnotherapy. Besides adding a bit of comic relief, her profession seemed fascinating. It made me want to try hypnosis for myself. So, on a recent trip to Las Vegas, I underwent hypnotherapy for weight loss at the hotel spa. I could see that it might be effective, but one 50-minute session is simply not enough. I spent most of my time trying to wonder if I was being hypnotized or not. However, the setting and the voice of the therapist (as well as the suggestions) seemed liked they could work if I could just give myself over to the process and relax and stop thinking. Needless to say, the weight loss suggestions didn't quite take, but I could imagine that a sustained treatment might actually work. The hypnotherapist I went to told me that he actually hypnotized people so they could undergo surgery without anesthesia! Can you imagine that?
Anyway, this is a terrific book and would make for a perfect summer read. (Of course, it would be just as good at other times of the year but I think it strikes just the right tone for lighter vacation reading that isn't totally brainless.)