The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty is a contemporary fiction novel taking place in Australia. Our main character, Ellen O’Farrell, is a professional hypnotherapist who lives in the house her grandparents owned. She has numerous clients that she sees regularly in her home office. She recently started dating a man she met online; he’s a surveyor named Patrick. Patrick is a widower – his wife died of cancer and he’s been raising their son, Jack, on his own (with some help from his parents who live close by). When they started dating, Patrick had gotten out of a relationship and Ellen’s last relationship was years ago. While Ellen and Patrick are out to dinner one night, Patrick states that he needs to her something, but has to excuse himself from the table before he has the chance to say anything. During the time Patrick is away, Ellen is fretting over the type of news it will be – will it be good or bad?
She spends the entire time Patrick is not sitting down at the table going over all their time spent together, thinking about Patrick’s body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, things he said, etc. to see if there were any warning signs he was unhappy and would want to end their relationship. After some intense thought, Ellen decided she couldn’t readily identify any warning signs or signals that he was unhappy or that he wanted to stop seeing her. However, she was never sure. Eventually, Patrick returns to his seat, he apologizes for his long absence and for ruining their dinner; Ellen easily forgives him while simultaneously bracing herself for the possibility of bad news. Patrick tells her that he has a stalker – his ex-girlfriend. He says that she follows him around, still calls and texts him; that she followed him to this restaurant and watched them eat (or not eat). At first, Ellen is relieved that he is not ending their relationship, then she is shocked to find out his ex-girlfriend is stalking him and came to the restaurant to watch them eat, lastly, she’s intrigued by this mysterious ex-girlfriend stalker.
As the story goes on, the reader meets Ellen’s mother, Anne, who lives close by. She and Ellen have slightly different tastes and ideas so they don’t always have a cozy relationship. The reader learns that Ellen was conceived because her mother wanted to have a baby despite not having the intention of getting married. Anne is in college when she hatches the plan to become a single mother; her friends, Mel and Pip, help her create a list of young men on campus with certain qualities in personality and other areas that she was looking for. She eventually ended up choosing the guy she had a crush on and went about accomplishing her goal. Therefore, Ellen’s father was never a part of her life, Anne raised her alone with the help of her parents, Mel and Pip. The story follows Ellen as she manages her hypnotherapy business, deals with her clients, and navigates her relationship with Patrick and his ex-girlfriend stalker.
I thought the book was funny, honest and interesting – I think the author did a good job bringing the characters to life and I like that she chose to tell some parts of the story from the point of view of the stalker showing us her motivations for stalking Patrick and why she’s been unable to stop herself. I would recommend this book to any adult who enjoys a humorous, romantic, contemporary fiction novel, a reader who may be looking to try a new author or genre of book or to any fan of Liane Moriarty’s work. I purchased my copy at a local used bookstore, I recommend checking if you have a used bookstore near you. If not, you can always check out a copy from your closest library (or libraries) if you’d like; or you can purchase your own copy in paperback at Barnes & Noble for $16.00 ($14.40 for B&N Members) or on Amazon for $6.99 (unfortunately, not a Prime item).
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