Title: Manipulated Lives by Helene Leuschel
Genre: Literary & General Fiction, Novellas, Suspense
Three words to describe the book: Psychological, manipulation, narcissism
Page count: 274
Publication Date: 8th June 2016
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 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, followed by a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Lastly, there is 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.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by the author herself.
Manipulated Lives is a collection of five short stories, Tess and tattoos, The spell, Runaway girl, The narcissist and My perfect child, all based around the theme of manipulation.
Tess And Tattoos is about eighty two year old, Tess, the survivor of domestic abuse who meets the kind hearted Sandra who forge an unlikely friendship which helps Tess come to terms with her past.
The Spell is about Sophie who befriend a young boy named Leo and enters into a relationship with his father. She is happy to spend time with Leo and sees him like her own son. Their happiness is short lived as a woman begins stalking them on behalf of Leo’s mother.
Runaway Girl is about fifteen year old Holly, who wants freedom from her alcoholic mother and out of the small flat that she shares with her family. But she catches the eye of Luke, the hottest boy in school with a bad reputation. She’s never really had a boyfriend before and is soon caught in Luke’s web.
The Narcissist is about a life long con artist who can’t see the error of his ways even though he’s now dying.
My Perfect Child is about Lisa who thinks she has the perfect son whom she spoils with attention and constantly makes excuses for. As the story progresses she realises that he has been manipulating her and everyone around him.
The Spell was by far my favourite and well worth buying this book for. It had a very psychological thriller feel to it. It really drew me into Sophie’s world, sharing her fears and feeling her protectiveness over Leo.
But I have to be honest the other stories didn’t quite live up to The Spell. I felt there was a lot of telling the reader what was happening rather than showing. Like for instance in Tess and Tattoos we’re told about the awkward guilt filled telephone calls that Tess has with her son, who lives in Australia. I felt it would have been better maybe to have shown one these calls within the dialogue. Also at times, especially in The Runaway Girl, the dialogue was little awkward too.
But overall I think Helene did an amazing job handling such a sensitive subject as manipulation/abuse and I can tell there was a lot of painstaking research was done on this subject throughout the stories.
These stories won’t be to everyone’s taste, and I even found it a little hard myself sometimes to read, but I’d recommend you give them a try.
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism and Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh.
She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
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