Manipulated Lives is quite different from my usual kind of read and probably not one I would have come across had the author not contacted me and asked if I would like to read it. I am glad she did as I found it quite a thought-provoking read. Helene also took part in an author spotlight on the blog last year which you can read here.
Manipulated Lives is a collection of five novellas with a common theme. In each story, there is a character who is either a manipulator or has been manipulated in some way. The manipulators are all kinds of people: parent, lover, boyfriend, child. And all appear to be normal everyday people. The story which spoke to me most was The Spell, the story of a woman beginning a relationship with a single father and his son Leo. As a reader it was clear that something wasn’t right with what David was telling Sophie but he seemed so convincing and to have all the answers. I think I was quite affected by this one as I was concerned for the future of little Leo. I also thought that the story of Holly was probably very true to life. She was a clever teenager who wanted to make a better future for herself yet still found herself duped by Luke, one of the cool boys in school, who over the course of their short relationship manages to cost her both money and self-esteem.
I would recommend taking time to read each story individually, by which I mean not one after the other. This will give you time to reflect on the characters and events of each story. The book made me think about the many ways in which people can be influenced by others and consider at what point influence becomes manipulation. People who manipulate aren’t always who you might imagine and are clever at what they do, making their actions seem reasonable.
Manipulated Lives in an intelligently written book with a reflective style of writing. Some of the stories are unsettling and they will make you think about whether you may know any manipulators in your own life.
My thanks to the author for offering me a copy of her book. Manipulated Lives was published in June 2016 in paperback and as an ebook, and is available to order online here: Manipulated Lives
From the back of the book
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.