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The Hypnotist's Love Story
Cover of The Hypnotist's Love Story
The Hypnotist's Love Story
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A "sharp and funny romantic tale" (O, the Oprah Magazine) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers.
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.
A "sharp and funny romantic tale" (O, the Oprah Magazine) from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers.
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.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    When people think of hypnosis, they think of swinging pendulums, "You're getting sleepy" and volunteers clucking like chickens on stage shows. So it's not surprising that many of my clients are quite nervous when they visit me for the first time! In fact there is nothing unnatural or frightening about hypnosis. Chances are, you've already had the experience of going into a "trance-like state" in your day-to-day life. Have you ever driven to a familiar destination and found that you have no memory of the drive? Guess what? You were in a trance!

    —From "An Introduction to Ellen O'Farrell,
    Hypnotherapist" leaflet

    I had never been hypnotized before. I didn't really believe in it, to be honest. My plan was to lie there and pretend it was working, and try not to laugh.

    "Most people are surprised by how much they enjoy it," said the hypnotist. She was all softness and soap; no makeup or jewelry. Her skin had a polished, translucent look, as if she only ever bathed in mountain streams. She smelled like one of those overpriced crafty shops you find in country towns: sandalwood and lavender.

    The room we were in was tiny, warm and strange. It was built on the side of the house like an enclosed balcony. The carpet was musty, with faded pink roses, but the windows were modern: floor-to-ceiling panels of glass like those in an atrium. The room was flooded with light. As I walked in, the light seemed to whoosh through my head, like a brisk breeze, and I could smell old books and the sea.

    We stood together, the hypnotist and me, our faces close to the windows. When you stood that close, you couldn't see the sand below, just the sea, a sheet of flattened, shiny tin that stretched out to the pale blue line of the horizon. "I feel like I'm at the helm of a boat," I said to the hypnotist, who seemed excessively delighted by this comment and said that was exactly how she always felt, her eyes round and shiny, like a children's entertainer.

    We sat down opposite each other. My chair was a soft, green leather recliner. The hypnotist's chair was a striped red-and-cream winged armchair. There was a low coffee table in between the chairs with a box of tissues—some people must cry, sobbing away about their past lives as starving peasants—a jug of ice water with two perfectly round slices of lemon floating on top, two tall water glasses, a small silver bowl of shiny wrapped chocolates, and a flat tray filled with tiny colored glass marbles.

    I once had a big, old-fashioned marble that belonged to my father when he was a boy. I'd hold it in the palm of my hand for luck during exams and job interviews. I lost it a few years ago, along with all my luck.

    As I looked around me, I saw that the light reflected off the ocean and onto the walls: prisms of dazzling, dancing light. It was a bit hypnotic actually. The hypnotist had her hands folded in her lap, her feet placed squarely on the ground. Flat ballet shoes, black tights, embroidered ethnic-looking skirt and cream wraparound cardigan. Hippie but elegant. New age but classic.

    I thought, What a beautiful, calm life you must lead. Sitting in this extraordinary room each day, bathed in dancing light. No e-mails filling your computer screen. No irate phone calls filling your head. No meetings or spreadsheets.

    I could sense her happiness. It radiated off her, sickly, like cheap perfume; not that she would ever wear cheap perfume.

    I tasted sour jealousy in my mouth and helped myself to a chocolate to make it go away.

    "Oh good, I'll have one too," said the hypnotist, unwrapping the chocolate with warm, girly camaraderie, like we were old friends. She is...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 19, 2012
    In Moriarty’s intriguing follow-up to What Alice Forgot, Ellen O’Farrell is a hypnotherapist in Australia who becomes romantically involved with Patrick, a single father and widower with a troubling secret: he has a stalker—ex-girlfriend Saskia. Instead of being disturbed, Ellen is curious about Saskia, wondering who she is, why she’s stalking Patrick, and if she, Ellen, could ever love anyone enough to stalk them for three years. Soon, Ellen discovers more than she was expecting: after three months of dating, she’s pregnant with Patrick’s child; Patrick wants to get married; and Saskia has been a patient of hers (under a pseudonym) since Ellen started her relationship with Patrick. Ellen and Patrick (and his son Jack) move in together, but Saskia doesn’t stop, a problem abetted by Ellen’s inquisitiveness and frustration about Patrick’s comparisons of Ellen to his dead wife, Colleen. As Saskia’s antics become increasingly aggressive, Ellen soon realizes that their bizarre situation has crossed into dangerous territory. Ellen’s voice is compelling and believable, and readers will appreciate Moriarty’s deft conveyance of a potentially trite topic into the realm of good storytelling.

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2012
    Australian Moriarty (What Alice Forgot, 2011, etc.) has managed to combine an infectiously lighthearted romance about a Sydney hypnotherapist with a potentially upsetting examination of a stalker's interior life. In the first scene, an unnamed narrator has come for treatment for mysterious leg pains at the home of the eponymous heroine, Buddhist-leaning but not stereotypically New-Agey Ellen, who uses her powers of hypnotic persuasion to solve other people's problems. Unfortunately, Ellen has been less successful solving her own problems in maintaining relationships. Then she meets surveyor Patrick, a widower, and the rapport is immediate. The romance proceeds swimmingly. Ellen even hits it off with Patrick's 8-year-old son, Jack. There is only one little hitch: Patrick is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend Saskia, who turns out to be the leg pain patient. Chapters take turns showing Ellen's and Saskia's perspectives as events unfold. Ellen, whose self-professed goal in life is self-awareness, tends to overanalyze, but she is also endearingly honest in rooting out her true feelings. Saskia's way of showing up and knowing everything about Ellen's and Patrick's lives creeps her out, but Ellen also finds herself wanting to understand Saskia, especially when Ellen acknowledges her own reaction to Patrick's lingering feelings for his dead wife. She is even drawn toward a gray ethical area in deciding whether to use her powers of suggestion on Patrick. But Saskia is the novel's unexpected heart. Moriarty makes it clear why Patrick, who is refreshingly imperfect as a secondhand Prince Charming, finds Saskia a threatening presence in his life. How far she might go is worrisome. But like Ellen, readers will be drawn to Saskia. She is a predator but also a deeply troubled woman. Moriarty makes sure that any woman who has ever compared herself to a lover's ex or Googled an ex of her own will identify to some degree with Saskia's struggle to overcome what she recognizes is an unhealthy obsession. Amazingly, the effervescent comedy and troubling melodrama combine to create a satisfying beach read, escapist but not unintelligent.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2012

    Ellen O'Farrell's new boyfriend is being stalked by his old girlfriend, but no problem! Ellen is a hypnotherapist, and she really wants to meet Saskia. What she doesn't know is that Saskia is already masquerading as one of her patients. Moriarty did well with last year's What Alice Forgot, and this is being positioned as a great beach read, so watch.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Liane Moriarty
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