Saturday, 22 October 2016

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel - Review


The concept behind Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel really intrigued me as there are five short stories but they are all based around the same theme of manipulators. Each story is different and told from a different perspective but they're all about the same basic thing. I have been a victim of more than one manipulative person when I was younger and I was very interested to see how the author portrayed this in her stories. 

The five stories are Tess and Tattoos, The Spell, Runaway Girl, The Narcissist and My Perfect Child. In each story the characters are all just so believable, I felt myself empathising with so many of them or at least recognising certain parts of both myself and other people in them. 

Tess and Tattoos I felt was really emotional and I'm not afraid to say that I shed a tear. Tess was such a powerful character that you would never imagine that she had been weak in her life. I think that Tess was actually one of my favourite characters throughout the whole book and I still feel like I really want to just hug her. This story just shows that you never really know anyone's full story and that even the strongest of people can be manipulated. 

The Spell followed Sophie as she started a relationship with David, the single dad of Leo. This story was one I identified with a lot and saw so many warning signs that Sophie missed as she got further into the relationship. It was also interesting to see just how clever a manipulator can be that they can have you believing that their victim is the manipulator and not them. 

The Runaway Girl was another one that I related to, followed teenage Holly, the good girl in her group of friends and in her family. She feels trapped and is planning on running away until she meets a boy. It was hard to see such a bright girl being duped by such a nasty piece of work, but again this shows that manipulators aren't just adults and that they can be any age. 

The Narcissist was he least favourite of mine of the stories as it was mainly from the very confused perspective of the manipulator in his last weeks/months of his life. It was hard to read how much that he actually believed his own lies and how much he blamed everyone else for his own shortcomings. 

My Perfect Child as a parent was hard to read as you have so many fears about how you are bringing up your child, that you just want to get everything right. Lisa after having an uncaring childhood of her own wants to ensure that Lucas is loved and feels loved and so she caters to his every whim even to the detriment of her husband and others. This leads to a spoilt child and a worse teenager and adult. The question that came to my mind while reading this story was whether Lucas had been born manipulative and Lisa just allowed him to get away with it, or was its Lisa's unwavering loyalty and love that created his manipulation. It all comes back to the nature vs nurture question and in this case certainly we'll never know. 

Overall such a wonderful and different read. I'm so incredibly happy that I read this book and I could barely put it down while reading it. 

I gave this book 5 stars. 

Blurb

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. 

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