What’s it all about?:
A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives
A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?
Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.
But is Alexa all she claims to be?
As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?
In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.
What did I think?:
First of all, a huge thank you to the author, H.A. Leuschel for getting in touch with me via email and asking if I would like to read her new novella, My Sweet Friend after thoroughly enjoying her short story collection, Manipulated Lives last year. Of course I jumped at the chance. Manipulated Lives really spoke to me personally as a past victim of psychological and emotional abuse/manipulation and I was intrigued to read more of Helene’s work where the theme of manipulation is once again explored. Unfortunately, I’ve been unlucky enough to experience these kind of problems with an ex-boyfriend and with friends and once again, so many parts of this novella resonated with my own personal experience. I saw so much of myself in the character of Rosie and I recognised other people I have known in Alexa – in short, it brought so many memories back and made me thank my lucky stars that I’m a stronger person in a much better stage of my life.
Helene Leuschel, author of the novella, My Sweet Friend.
So in a nutshell, this novella focuses on two female leads, Alexa who has had to take leave from a job she has only recently started as a result of stress and she is off sunning herself on a beach in Bairritz. Then we have Rosie who has been with the company for a long time when Alexa joins the team and they strike up a friendship. It is not long before Rosie begins to feel uneasy about the nature of their relationship however. There are the snide comments, the unrealistic expectations and the way Rosie is slowly made to feel as if she is going crazy. There are particular incidents where Alexa denies saying or doing a certain thing putting Rosie in serious financial and emotional difficulties and Rosie is constantly covering for her mistakes at work. Is Alexa a real, honest friend that is just misunderstood? Does Rosie really know the real Alexa at all? Finally, is their relationship a genuine friendship with all the ups and downs that a regular friendship suffers or is it something toxic that needs to be extinguished as soon as possible?
The town of Bairritz, France where Alexa travels to after taking leave from her job.
I was utterly gripped by this short story and quite frankly, appalled by the ever so subtle manipulation carried out which sadly, works all too well on vulnerable people. The author has dug remarkably deep into the human psyche and the ways in which we can affect another human being’s emotions, even by the tiniest little act. Things like this may seem insignificant and in Rosie’s case, are very difficult to prove that they are happening but when it builds up gradually over time, it can destroy a person’s self-esteem which from personal experience, can be very difficult to recover from, if you ever really fully recover. This is a fascinating tale which draws on psychology to illustrate how a person’s thoughts and emotions can be disassembled, piece by piece until the affected victim becomes almost a shadow of themselves, questioning everything, even their own sanity.
My Sweet Friend is another brilliant outing from H.A. Leuschel and I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience her writing style once more. This is a tale to make you think, reflect and consider people you may have met in your own life, especially if you recognise having been manipulated in the past.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):