After reading a collection of short stories by the same author earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading this novella, but I had a feeling that Manipulated Lives would be a hard act to follow.
My Sweet Friend is a deep, and slightly dark look into the dynamics of friendship and how people aren’t necessarily what they seem. Manipulators are often clever, devious people who lie and do whatever is needed for their own ends. H.A. Leuschel once again hooked me by her subtly complex characters that have an intriguing depth.
Told in alternate chapters by the two main characters, the story follows Alexa and Rosie and their close friendship. They are work colleagues as well as best friends, and after Alexa takes some time off from work, we get to see that something between the two women isn’t quite ringing true.
The author is excellent at portraying characters that are flawed by their past. The friendship here is proved to be deceitful, manipulative and fake. I enjoyed that I was unable to pinpoint who was being manipulated by who until about half way through. When the characters back stories fell into place, and their true colours started to show through, I was dying to find out how the story would pan out.
The writing style felt fresh and breezy, like the location in which it was set. For me, there’s always something so lovely about France, but the author creates a backdrop of beauty for something that’s altogether rather unsettling.
My only complaint is when I got to the end, I felt disappointed that I couldn’t continue reading. There is so much to this story that could be elaborated and built upon, that’s my problem with novellas, they’re just not long enough! (Stating the obvious I know, but that’s why I don’t read many stories under 300 pages!)
Overall, I enjoyed this novella immensely, I am just hoping that Helene will write something along these same lines that is at least 300 pages, so I can sink my teeth right in. Her short stories are a delicious snack, and I’d really like a proper roast with all the trimmings!
HUGE thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this novella in exchange for an honest review, as always, it was a pleasure.