The Therapist by Helene Flood

I’m enormously grateful to Milly Reid at Quercus for sending me a copy of The Therapist by Helene Flood in return for an honest review. It gives me great pleasure to share that review today. I also spoke about The Therapist in a recent online event that you can view here.

Published by Maclehose on 8th July 2021, The Therapist is available for purchase through the links here.

The Therapist

At first it’s the lie that hurts.

A voicemail from her husband tells Sara he’s arrived at the holiday cabin. Then a call from his friend confirms he never did.

She tries to carry on as normal, teasing out her clients’ deepest fears, but as the hours stretch out, her own begin to surface. And when the police finally take an interest, they want to know why Sara deleted that voicemail.

To get to the root of Sigurd’s disappearance, Sara must question everything she knows about her relationship.

Could the truth about what happened be inside her head?

Translated from the Norwegian by Alison McCullough.

My Review of The Therapist

Sigurd is missing.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Therapist, not least because the excellent translation by Alison McCullough is smooth and effortless to read. The first person narrative gives an intensity and intimacy that draws in the reader and places them in Sara’s position whilst making them wonder how reliable a narrator she might be. I found this technique very effective.

The plot is meticulously crafted and totally plausible whilst twisting and entertaining completely so that The Therapist held my attention unwaveringly and I devoured the book over a couple of days because I couldn’t set it aside. As the narrative reaches the denouement, and threads are drawn together, the reader understands just how intelligently and skilfully The Therapist has been plotted. With careful attention to detail, the reader can become every bit the detective that Gunderson has to be in solving the case. However, I wasn’t up to the job and I didn’t guess all the reveals which added to my immense enjoyment. It’s always difficult to review plots for fear of spoilers but let me simply say I loved this one!

The narrative really revolves around Sara although there are plenty of minor characters adding interest too. I found it fascinating that, although Sara didn’t especially gain my empathy, she held my attention completely. The psychology that underpins her character and her role in the book is utterly compelling. I felt a kind of hypnotic obsession with what happened to Sara and her responses to those events. Actually, it’s slightly unnerving because it felt as if I were somehow being assessed at the same time as enjoying a cracking story. I think the success of The Therapist lies in the fact that it can be read on so many levels, especially because of the authority of the psychological aspects Helene Flood uses.

The themes of The Therapist are universal so that there is something for everyone to relate to. How well we ever really know those we love is central, but family and friendship, truth and honesty, marriage and relationships, loneliness and ambition are woven in so intricately that I think the book would reward many, many readings. I found Helen Flood’s treatment of her themes through Sara’s eyes totally absorbing, especially with regard to the minutiae of life. Small details are huge clues and we just need to look more observantly to find them.

I’m aware that this review is somewhat ambiguous, because I don’t want to inadvertently to spoil the book for others. Let me simply say I thought The Therapist was excellent. I resented time spent away from it when I was reading and finished The Therapist feeling as if I’d been brilliantly, effectively and authentically entertained – and not a little manipulated! Don’t miss this one.

About Helene Flood

Helene Flood is a psychologist who obtained her doctoral degree on violence, revictimization and trauma-related shame and guilt in 2016. She now works as a psychologist and researcher at the National Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress.

She lives in Oslo with her husband and two children.

The Therapist is her first adult novel. It has been sold in 27 counties and film rights have been bought by Anonymous Content. Her second novel, The Lover, will be published in English in 2022.

You’ll find Helene on Instagram and Facebook.

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