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.
These five short stories all have one thing in common manipulation and the fact that these stories were shown from different angles made it all the more intriguing for me. Whether it is from the perspective of the manipulator or the person being manipulated. There are characters involved who range from likeable right through to the downright nasty. All of the stories evoke different emotions and responses such as sorrow, fear, hate and love. Manipulated Lives also strives to show the different ways that people can manipulate from physical to emotional abuse. There are calculating people out there who often hide behind a smoke screen of respectability whether it be a family member or partner.
I decided to read Manipulated Lives in one go as I thought I would get a better feel for the book. However each story ends clearly ready to move onto the next novella so it would be pretty easy to finish one of the stories and then pick back up at another time. I think that Manipulated Lives will definitely open your eyes to even minor manipulation that you may have overlooked. Some of the stories are tense and have you reading faster to discover what happens. Whereas some draw you into the characters lives and the effects that events have had on them. I found this especially with Tess and Tattoos as you get to hear her viewpoint and experience her life as it is now.
Even though each story is a novella it almost doesn't have that feel to it because each story has just the right amount of information to be drawn into the characters lives. They are well written and definitely make you wonder about the many different ways that you can be manipulated or in fact be the manipulator. The fact that all five stories are different helps to show this and how maybe at the beginning of a relationship everything can appear normal but then slowly but surely you are too involved to maybe even realise that this is not the case.
If I had to pick a favourite it would be My Perfect Child because it is written about the relationship between a child and his mother. How as a parent we can sometimes indulge our child by maybe letting our children get away with certain behaviour. This story shows the effects that could happen and highlights that a child may use and turn a mothers unconditional love against her.
All five stories are cleverly written and drew me right in!
With thanks to Helene Leuschel for my copy. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.