About this 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.
I’ve always been very interested in psychology and the nature vs nurture arguments so I was keen to read this set of short stories that, though not directly related, are all based around a “manipulator”. Now it’s probably a fine line between describing someone as a manipulator as opposed to, say,an influencer so when does it become a problem and is it possible for a manipulator to change? Are they born that way or is it a learned behaviour? Here we meet 5 individuals who have very different backgrounds but are bound together by their behaviour.
Of the five stories the last two I found to be much more intriguing as I found them more relatable for me personally. Runaway Girl will bring terror to the heart of any mum of teenage girls as they get to that age where you are desperate to protect them still but they are old enough to start making their own decisions. You just hope that they never meet that controlling person who will slowly take them over, the manipulator knows who to choose and how to play them……and there’s nothing you can do about it!
The last of the short stories was the one I felt the strongest about and divided my opinions. My Perfect Child is about a mum who comes to parenthood later in life and becomes that mother we all know-the one who constantly makes excuses for her child, let’s them get away with having no boundaries and is almost scared of disciplining them for fear they will not be loved by their own child. But I think my point with this one was would the perfect child have grown up to be a manipulator anyway, is it something always there but waiting to be nurtured?
I found this a fascinating collection of themed stories and liked the fact they actually made me feel rather uncomfortable. There is a lot to spark debate set within them and I’m sure everyone will take something personal from one of the tableaux here.
Many thanks to the author for my review copy of Manipulated Lives.
Manipulated Lives is available on Amazon UK here.
Meet 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.