Five stories – Five Lives.
Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance?
Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim.
In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.
Many thanks to the author who contacted me via the website to introduce me to this book, and for the complimentary copy I now have the privilege of reviewing.
Psychology is something that fascinates me, but it’s so difficult to weave strong psychological traits into fiction without them being too on-the-nose.
I’m not going to lie, the first couple of stories in this book were, despite being really interesting, pretty blunt in the message and lacked the finesse I was hoping for but the last three? Absolutely amazing.
These stories cover a few unusual psychological behaviours, but each of them had a character with a narcissistic personality disorder – something that I’ve grown up alongside and have an interest in. It shows the variety of ways these people can worm their way into your life and make you do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do without someone else’s overpowering influence coercing you.
What’s more – they’re realistic. These are the stories of very realistic people, living very ordinary lives when they’re disrupted by the behaviour of someone close to them.
For me, the style of writing settled into a comfortable groove as the book went on – so if you do pick this up and you find it a little bit too blatant: STICK WITH IT. Once the author embraces the art of subtlety, there really is no stopping her!
This book is a great balance of entertaining (not necessarily in a happy way) and educational, it highlights some of the warning signs you may experience if you find yourself in the company of a manipulator.