Book Review: “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” by Liane Moriarty

I was really excited to finally get to listen to this audiobook. The second audiobook I ever listened to was “What Alice Forgot,” also written by Liana Moriarty and narrated by Tamara Lovatt Smith! I loved “What Alice Forgot,” and Tamara Lovatt Smith was an incredible narrator (with a great Australian accent), so I couldn’t wait to experience this author-narrator team again. The summary describing a hypnotherapist, her new lover, and his stalker who is already stalking the main character without her realizing it was so intriguing. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. Nothing really happened beyond the blurb on the back of the book; I kept waiting for more to happen but it never did. That being said, it was still entertaining enough and the hypnotherapy aspect was interesting and unique. Continue reading below to see my full thoughts on this book.

Spoiler-Free Review: “The Hypnotist’s Love Story” is a light novel with an interesting premise that doesn’t live up to its potential. The story alternates between two primary narrators: Ellen (the hypnotherapist) and Saskia (the stalker). Initially, we know that Saskia has integrated herself into Ellen’s life, but we don’t know which of Ellen’s friends or clients is her. This first portion of the novel is mysterious and kind of eerie, but the tension dissipates the instant we discover who Saskia is, and the story kind of goes downhill afterward (it never recovers that creepy tone that made it so interesting). While I enjoyed the dual-perspectives, I felt there were many missed opportunities for drama and character development. Overall, it was a book I enjoyed while reading it (anticipating something interesting was just around the corner), but then was disappointed when I got to the end and felt like I had wasted my time.

Below you will find a more thorough review containing my thoughts about the book. There are some spoilers ahead, so if you’d prefer to avoid those go ahead and jump to the TL;DR summary at the bottom of the page for a spoiler-free summary of my thoughts.

“The Hypnotist’s Love Story” by Liane Moriarty
The Hypnotist's Love Story: Moriarty, Liane: 8601400277294:  Books
  • Year of Publication: 2011
  • Genre: Realistic Fiction
  • Summary:

“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.”

Trigger Warnings: Stalking. Death of a parent. Death of a spouse/mother. Therapy.

Format: Audiobook (Narrated by Tamara Lovatt Smith)

Themes: Communication is key. Happiness is possible. It’s important to take care of your mental health. Find your family.

Character Development: I would say that the side characters are more interesting than the main characters in this novel. Ellen is somewhat interesting and I appreciate the fact that she is one of the narrators, since the way she processes things as a hypnotherapist (someone who is very in touch with her inner self and her feelings) is really unique. However, her partner, Patrick, is really dull. I never felt like I got to know him very well, and couldn’t really find a reason to root for him. As for the side characters, Ellen’s mother was independent and feisty, but a little one-dimensional (and this goes for both of Ellen’s best friends as well). Jack, Patrick’s son, was quirky and cute and I enjoyed him; I wish he had more of role throughout the story. I also enjoyed Saskia, and felt that she experienced the most character growth out of anyone else in the story.

Plot/Pacing: This book was way too long considering nothing really happens. The publisher’s summary is all about Ellen’s new boyfriend having a stalker, and that the stalker has already become a part of Ellen’s life without her realizing it. However, the reader (along with Ellen) discovers her true identity pretty early on in the story, and this is the most dramatic moment in the whole book (and we’re not even halfway through at this point!). I kept counting down the hours as I read. 7 hours left, something really exciting must be happening soon… 4 hours left, maybe there will be an unexpected twist soon… 1 hour left, is this really all that’s going to happen?

The plot just didn’t come together. The main mystery (Saskia’s identity) is solved too early on in the story, which is a huge problem for me. But then there are lots of little things that keep coming up for Ellen (SPOILERS): she becomes pregnant after only being with her boyfriend for a few months, worries about having a healthy pregnancy at her age, struggles with Patrick’s living habits after moving in together, is confronted by a very upset patient who hasn’t seen progress in her treatment, has her reputation and business threatened by other unhappy patient, makes unethical decisions in various practices of hypnotherapy, meets her biological father for the first time, and finally has a dramatic confrontation with the stalker. Seeing this list, it’s evident that there were so many opportunities for something interesting to happen, but all of these problems were resolved quickly, conveniently, and pleasantly and were overall pretty pointless in the story.

Writing Style: I enjoyed having Ellen and Saskia as dual-narrators (Saskia’s perspective was especially interesting). I also liked that we didn’t know everything initially, and that the characters’ backgrounds and motivations weren’t entirely predictable. The issue is that, although they weren’t predictable, the big reveals are really dull. This is a rare instance when the book would have been more interesting if it were more predictable (because my predictions were more interesting than what actually happened!).

“Bingeability”: Moderate. I wasn’t totally sucked in, but I did keep wanting to go back to it to see if something was going to happen.

Emotional Investment: Low. I felt no connection to the characters and wasn’t too excited to see them get their happy endings.

Windows and Mirrors: Australian landscape. Stalking (specifically the experience of a man being stalked by a woman). Love after loss. Being a step-parent. Hypnotherapy.

Overall Thoughts: One thing I wasn’t disappointed by was the representation of hypnotherapy. I have actually participated in hypnotherapy before (as a patient, not a therapist), and I felt the representation of the experience was pretty accurate! I also liked how Ellen encountered many people who didn’t take her or her profession seriously because I felt this was realistic. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only part of this book that wasn’t disappointing.

As far as the audiobook goes, the dual narration was a little confusing at first because I didn’t realize the narrator had switched. However, I was able to enjoy it once I got used to it (and I’m sure this would have been less jarring in a physical book format). The narrator, Tamara Lovatt Smith, was fantastic as always!

Overall, it was pleasant enough while actually reading it, but a huge disappointment by the time I got to the final page. Maybe it’s my fault for expecting something that the book never claimed to be? Based on the summary, I was expecting a thriller. Ellen is being stalked without realizing it, the stalker has never been violent in the past but you never know, the boyfriend is resistant to going to the police but won’t reveal why… The premise sounded so thrilling! But nothing about the story ended up being this way; it was very mundane. It’s possible it was my fault for expecting something the book was never intended to be, but in that case the summary for the book should have been written differently to reflect that. It’s like when you go to taste something expecting one thing but then it ends up being something else. The thing you’re tasting might not taste bad, but the experience is jarring and unpleasant since you were expecting something else.

Recommendation: Eh… It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t terrible either. If you’re looking for a light beach read or something, this book could be good for that. If you’re looking for a thriller I do not recommend this one. If you’re looking to check out a book by Liane Moriarty, try “What Alice Forgot.” This is one of my all-time favorites, and a much better reflection of what Moriarty is capable of as a writer! I will definitely be attempting another book of hers at some point in the future; this one just happened to be a miss for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Year of Publication: 2011
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Summary: Ellen is a hypnotherapist who hasn’t been so lucky in love. She lives a comfortable life and has a career she’s passionate about, but she’d really like her next relationship to last. After meeting Patrick, she begins to feel like this could be it. He’s kind, employed, and seems like a good person. Her only concerns are the fact that he’s a widow, has an 8-year-old son, and, oh yeah, is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend. However, Ellen is willing to accept all these things, even the stalker which she actually finds kind of fascinating rather than off-putting. She’s so curious about her, that she even wishes she could meet her. What she doesn’t realize is that she already has…
Themes: Communication. Happiness. Family. Mental health.
Character Development: Weak. The stalker and the young son are the most interesting characters, and the stalker is the only one who experiences much growth.
Unnecessarily long and slow. Problems arise only to be solved swiftly and conveniently.
Writing Style:
Dual narrators. Third-person limited point of view.
Emotional Investment:
Windows and Mirrors:
Australian landscape. Stalking (specifically a man being stalked by a woman). Love after loss. Hypnotherapy.
Overall Thoughts:
Good representation of hypnotherapy. Seems like it’s going to be a thriller, but definitely isn’t.
Recommendation: Kind of. Not good but not terrible either. Good for a light beach read, but try “What Alice Forgot” instead if you’re wanting to check out Liane Moriarty.
Rating: 3/5

Thank you for reading my review! Leave a comment letting me know if you’ve read this one or have any other thoughts about it, and keep an eye out for next week’s review!

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