This one was recommended to me by my shrink. Even though it involves stalking, which made me have some pause, she said it was all right. And it was.
Ellen is a 35-year-old Aussie who's starting to date Patrick, a widower with a young son and a stalker ex-girlfriend named Saskia. Most people would be disturbed that he has a stalker, but Ellen is actually kind of intrigued by the idea. I did like how we start out meeting Ellen by Patrick being all, "I have some bad news" and Ellen starts immediately expecting to be dumped on date four and rearranging her expectations if he did it and thinking how she'll cope. This goes on for pages (perhaps a bit much), but as a permanently single chick I kind of liked her saying that, even if it's a big long after awhile. Anyway, back to the stalker: Ellen is rather intrigued at Saskia's passion because Ellen has never been that passionate of a person herself.
The narration alternates between focusing on Ellen in the third person...and Saskia the stalker in first person, because what Ellen doesn't know is that Saskia is now a patient of hers. (Which one is eventually revealed, I didn't guess it.) Saskia was essentially his son's foster mom for years and Patrick dumped her out of the blue and she was freaking devastated...and focuses on him even though she kinda knows it's bad--and at the same time she's operating under a certain self-delusion. I have to say that the author does an excellent job of portraying Saskia's mental state and why she's acting like she is and how she mentally slips into happy delusions that people will be happy to see her if she breaks into their house. She also kinda seems friendly in her own brain towards Ellen, thinking that to some degree she could help her. "You Oughta Know" sums her mental state up pretty well, especially the bits where she doesn't want to be just thrown away. She feels like without Patrick and his family (which threw her out), she has nothing but her job left.
I do not love Patrick. To be fair, this book and situation aren't putting him at his best, but I still don't think the guy's awesome. He's merely tolerable at best to me.
After Ellen starts to head towards Typical Happily-Ever-After Land for a single lady over 30--which is to say she comes up pregnant and engaged pretty quick, and even the dad she never knew comes into her life--she starts to wonder why the hell she isn't happy like you'd think she'd be. Instead, she's annoyed at Patrick's quirks when moving in, feels jealous of his love towards his dead wife--isn't it a bit obsessive to visit her parents and her grave every month?--and then there's Saskia, now that Ellen's found out who she is. Ellen can't help but think that Saskia is the only one who'd understand how she feels about the dead wife, at least.
And then there's Ellen's job, which is handled in thoughtful ways. There's pain management (Saskia's issue in multiple ways), there's figuring out what you really want in life (client Rosie is engaged but doesn't want to be), there's the patients that Ellen gets the idea to hypnotically prime to at least try dating each other, which is a bit ethically dubious... and then there's Ellen's hypnotizing Patrick to go to sleep, which leads her to some uncomfortable revelations and even more ethical dubiousness. And when Rosie's man finds out about this, he threatens to put Ellen out of business.
Things get rocky, but they work out in the end, even for Saskia. Go figure. It's a nice story. Odd but nice. So overall I give it four stars.