Liane Moriarty is the author of What Alice Forgot, so if you read that book, or even read my post on that book, you will have a bit of an idea of the type of story this author brings us. Chick lit with an edge. No. Not chick lit. Women’s fiction with an edge.
Ellen O’Farrell is a hypnotherapist. A thirty-something unmarried hypnotherapist. [Note to self: look up hypnotherapists in Yellow Pages and make appointment for weight reduction.] She meets a charming man, widowed, and father to an eight year old boy. He is lovely, intelligent, and just right. Mr. Right. Well, all except for his stalker. Yeah, he has a stalker, an ex-girlfriend who is everywhere, follows him, spies on him, writes him endless text messages and emails.
I almost gave up on this book as soon as I found out about the stalker. Frankly, I wasn’t in a mental space to deal with the darkness of a stalker story. They never end well.
But I persevered, because I was too lazy to start another book, and I was so glad I did. Turns out that the stalker has become a client of Ellen’s to treat her leg pain. The stalker knows, of course, that Ellen is dating her ex., which is why she became a client.
But as the tale goes on, we come to acquire a kind of grudging liking for the poor chick. The nice man lived with her (or rather she lived with him) and she played devoted helpmeet to him and doting mother to the boy. She loved them both so much. And then, one day, poof, just like that, he dumped her. And she couldn’t let go.
Meanwhile, the lovely man is still in love with his dead wife, who died from cancer when the son was very very young. He goes once a month to the cemetery and puts flowers on the grave and talks to her, giving her all the latest news. And then visits her parents one Sunday every month for dinner. Creepy. And sad. The parents are still mourning, and always will, and their house is a shrine to their only child, now deceased too soon.
You have to admire Ellen. I would have booted his baggage-laden ass out the door long before I learned about the stalker, because, sh*t, who needs this cr*p, right?
My only cavil is that, as all decent women’s fiction books must, it all ends well, all the loose ends tidied up, everybody gets what they want, pretty much. Perhaps something a bit more quirky for an ending might have satisfied me.
A book about letting go, not about forgetting about the past, but about building new lives on the old, incorporating what still fits, and storing away what no longer is appropriate in our memory boxes.