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 façade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.
After reading H.A. Leuschel’s series of thrilling and thought-provoking short stories, Manipulated Lives, last year, (see the review), I excited to read her latest novella, My Sweet Friend.
Written from the perspectives of the main characters, Alexa and Rosie, in alternating chapters, Ms. Leuschel has once again granted the reader intimate access into the working minds of these characters.
We open in the French seaside town Biarritz with Alexa’s story. Our “heroine” is introduced as an overly exhausted woman, on the brink of a breakdown. She tells the reader her doctor prescribed a week of R&R and so she headed to a place where no one knows her. It is easy to feel sorry for Alexa and her visible burnout. The author has Alexa tell us how she has been working relentlessly to step up her game in the stressful world of sales and marketing. She also adeptly slides in the following: “If I’d learned one thing over the years, it was the fact that both immaculate looks and controlled behaviour could go a long way towards influencing people’s impressions of me.” Is she a first class wreck or lying manipulator?
Flashback to three months earlier in Paris. Rosie remembers the first time she and her team at work met Alexa. So sure of herself, all shiny hair and pretty face. She was captivating, and impeccable in her mannerisms, impressing almost everyone.
Alexa showers Rosie with compliments and casts a spell on her. They develop a fast and furious friendship socializing after work and on the weekends.
In a work-related crisis while Alexa in Biarritz, the relationship gets pushed beyond the limits of friendship. A vital client document for a pitch has disappeared, yet Alexa claims to have sent it to Rosie before leaving for her rest. Add a man on their team to the mix with a fight for his affections, and you know this is not going to end well.
My Sweet Friend explores the consequences of manipulative relationship. Ms. Leuschel has an innate sense of the way people can be manipulated through the facade of friendship. Both the internal and the spoken dialogue are used to create a sense of unease and doubt in the reader’s mind, leaving one to wonder who is truly the victim in this relationship. Most of us have had that toxic friend who causes you to doubt your life and decisions, and you cannot see the truth until long after removing them from your lives. This novella is a dark glimpse into the dynamics of friendship and manipulation.
Helene always leaves me with something to think about when I put down her books. I start looking at people in my life just a little more carefully, pondering how well I know them and how well they both know and accept the true me. Another winner here, five stars for Helene and My Sweet Friend!
Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium. She earned a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication leading to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London, and Edinburgh. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Portugal. She has also acquired a Masters Degree in Philosophy to deepen her passion for studying the human mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.