Best for: Someone who wants a quick read with some interesting explorations of loss.
In a nutshell: Ellen (they hypnotist) has just started a relationship with Patrick. Patrick’s wife died seven years ago, when their son was only a year old. Saskia was Patrick’s first relationship after his wife died, and after they broke up, Saskia began to stalk Patrick. It continues.
Line that sticks with me: “You weren’t meant to admit, even to yourself, how badly you wanted love. The man was meant to be the icing, not the cake.”
Why I chose it: I’d downloaded it during my Liane Moriarty phase two years ago but never got around to reading it. But I was just on a cruise, so it was perfect.
This book reminds me a bit of “What Alice Forgot” in that it doesn’t quite follow what I now consider the Liane Moriarty formula: two or three interweaving story lines told out of order with a great mystery revealed. This has elements of it, but felt fresh to me.
I enjoyed the storytelling and the elements of mystery – some characters pop up unexpectedly – but the main plot felt a bit deeper than one might expect from a beach read (which is where I think her books often end up). Saskia is a stalker, and in general I wouldn’t be interested in their perspective. And she is not made out to be any sort of victim, but as the story progresses, I think we start to recognize that her motivation is more complicated. But that said … if the genders were reversed, I’m not sure if I would feel as much empathy for Saskia as I found myself feeling. And regardless of the amount, is it odd to feel any at all?
The book also looks at how we view losses differently when it comes to an unwanted break-up versus a death. We all carry bits of previous relationships, but when someone leaves us through death, they can become canonized. And the next person who dates the one left behind is there because the previous person isn’t. How do you handle that? How long ‘should’ one grieve a death? And is there a particular reason why we allow for more grief over a death than over the end of a long-term relationship? Is it reasonable to expect someone to get over being left in a few weeks when they thought they had a life with someone? And how can their grief be directed in a healthy way. Moreover, how does it all change when there are kids involved?
I enjoyed this book a lot. The ending was satisfying to me, although I could have seen it ending differently and also being enjoyable.