‘Realistic, heart-breaking and utterly gripping!’ - Bookneeders
'A brilliant and important book ... I could barely put it down'- Nerdish Mum Book Blog
‘You NEED to read this. Your family needs to read this, your friends need to read this, your children … NEED to read this’ - JenacideByBibliophile
Five fictional, compelling true-to-life stories about how people can be manipulated by others.
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.
To her dismay, Tess seemed to have nodded off, her face looking pale and slightly ashen. That was when she could not bear it any longer and silently crept over
to where Tess was sitting and already emitting small snoring sounds, while the music was still accompanying the next enthusiastic dancing couple on screen. She whispered Tess’s name a few times and then, without any further thought, raised her friend’s sleeve to the top of her arm.
She was speechless at what she discovered. Tess’s arm was surrounded by a row of interlocked shackles. They were thick and black and she was taken aback by the courage of this old lady for choosing such a strong design. At the front of the arm though, the link was broken and instead of the metal chain, small detached pieces were progressively floating up her upper armwhere they took on the shape
of a group of birds flying off towards the top of her shoulder. Sandra sat back with a great sigh, pulled the sleeve back down and reached for the cover that laid by her side. While she covered Tess’s legs and ever so gently placed another cushion behind her head, she could sense her friend’s hand, the skin dry and cool, reaching for hers. She was startled by the unexpected gesture, her thoughts racing with amixture of guilt and embarrassment. She knelt close to her, holding her hand for a while, when she heard a small whisper coming from Tess’s mouth and she lowered her ear, asking her to repeat what she had just said.
‘Thank you so much... I’m sorry for leaving you so soon, my love.’ Sandra’s eyes widened in disbelief. What on earth was Tess talking about? Before she could set her forehead into a deep frown, she sensed her heart drop into the centre of the stomach. It is too late, she told herself.
The room suddenly felt oppressive and stuffy and the air was still with foreboding. Sandra got up and frantically opened one of the dining room windows, knowing the feeling all too well, even though it had been a while since she last experienced it. The fresh gust of air blowing into her face was rejuvenating and refreshing but she was frightened to turn round. In the nearby trees she could hear the birds singing and twittering as if it were just another normal autumn afternoon.
She took another deep breath, her eyes streaming now with tears of frustration, and resolutely walked back to where Tess was now slumped awkwardly in her chair. The meaning of the tattoo was staring her straight in the face. Tess had lost her imaginary wings before she had ever learned to fly.
And she had not seen it coming.
About the author:
Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a BA in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind.
Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists.
She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.
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