Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com
Cathy has been reading Manipulated Lives by Helen Leuschel
This is a unique concept for me – a collection of stories based around a particular personality type. The stories are all diverse, depicting the different, elaborate and sometimes dark methods parents, children or peers use to manipulate each other for their own gains and/or agenda, shown from the perspective of the manipulator and also from the manipulated.
Manipulated Lives is the stories of those people and how the darker aspects of human nature change and damage their lives, and also the consequences for the manipulators. The eventual coming to terms with the psychological slant affects them each in different ways, some stories having more of an impact than others but each giving pause for thought.
There’s enough conveyed in the narratives for the reader to build a picture of the characters. They’re given depth and interest, and their circumstances give rise to a host of emotions. Depicted realistically, each story shows the different ways people can be manipulated, whether through naiveté, loving too much or weakness. Anyone is susceptible.
I enjoyed all the stories but my favourites are ‘Tess and Tattoos’ and ‘Runaway Girl’. All of them are written extremely well and appropriately for the particular characters. Tess’s unfolding story is very touching, a compelling and lonely old lady who lost everything, reliving parts of her life to a sympathetic listener.
‘She was heartbroken each time she looked around her four walls. In the not too distant future, her relatives would all board a plane and travel thousands of kilometres, however, not in order to chat and spend time with her, but so that they could lower her urn into the hard Scottish ground.’
Holly in “Runaway Girl’ is a teenager saving every penny she can for a train ticket out of the life she sees as so restricting, desperately wanting her freedom and independence.
‘She had kept the cash hidden in a small black plastic bag inside her mattress. She was the only person who knew of a hole in the side of it. It was the only safe place in this entire two-bedroom flat she shared with her siblings and parents.’
From the controlling husband and father to the longed for and ultimately spoiled son, each story in this collection is unique, convincing and authentic. An inside look at vividly portrayed disastrous, fascinating and sometimes frightening relationships.
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.
About the author
Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.