Can Liane Moriarty write a bad novel? Of all of hers that I’ve read, this was maybe the weakest and it was still solid. It follows a hypnotherapist, Ellen O’Farrell, as she begins a romance with a single-father widower, Patrick. Patrick discloses that he has a stalker, an ex-girlfriend named Saskia, who isn’t dangerous but does seem to be always there. Although ostensibly a love story (hence the name), the story doesn’t focus as much on the romance between Patrick and Ellen as on the mutual fascination that Ellen and Saskia have with each other (sadly, no twist ending where they find love with each other).
As always, Moriarty’s gift for character and dialogue shines through- you end up rooting for both Ellen and Saskia, and understanding their motivations, even if you wish they’d act on them differently. Plot-wise, this is an earlier novel than Big Little Lies and it feels like it. As she has written more books she’s pulled the plot up to the same level as character, but this is an earlier one and it shows. While Ellen and Saskia are interesting, there was an awful lot of very little happening here. [And on a related note, Saskia, the ostensible villain, is heck of a lot more interesting than the heroine. Ellen seems to do little but drift- she’s not given a lot to do save respond to the events happening around and to her. Saskia on the other hand is the action driver- she is taking risks (albeit not always smart ones) and her desires are what give structure to the book. Give us a more Saskia!]
I’m struggling a little to try and get to a longer review- it was pleasant to read, it could’ve used more plot, and it was light, bubbly and inoffensive. Solid 3 stars?