This is a reasonably readable book, but in a “skim through” kind of way.
Ex-Adelaidean and Hong Kong resident Jules Hannaford is one of the unfortunates who got caught up in a “sweetheart scam”, where a romantic partner turns out to be after your money. In this book she tells the story of her experience of being scammed and gives advice as to how to avoid the same fate.
Hannaford comes across as an intelligent, warm and likeable woman. She writes with vulnerability and honesty. However, her work has fallen into the perpetual trap of the self-published in that it cries out for a proper editor.
The over-arching problem with this book is that it is having an identity crisis: is it a cautionary tale, or is it a full memoir? Hannaford settles on a two-way bet which doesn’t pay off. The reader has to wade through (albeit charming) completely irrelevant stories from her childhood before getting to the crux of the work. Her writing is also repetitive, lacking in rhythm, and reads as if it were a gushing story told to a group of friends over a few too many wines.
It is very difficult not to draw comparisons with Stephanie Wood’s Fake, which deals with similar subject-matter, from an auto-biographical perspective. One of the things which Wood does so beautifully in her work is interrogate both her own motivations and those of her scammer. Hannaford tends to dismiss her own behaviour as simply motivated by loneliness and romanticism. It is sorely lacking in depth.
Admittedly her scammer is less complex than Wood’s in that he is after money. But there are much easier ways to grift than romancing a woman for months. What draws someone to the sweetheart scam? It must be more than the cash, and I would have liked Hannaford to research and investigate that. It is also telling that she often refers to him as intelligent and sophisticated in his scamming when really, he was one of the more clumsy and obvious ones I’ve heard of.
This is a reasonably readable book, but in a “skim through” kind of way. Anyone who has dated, particularly on-line, will recognise some of the situations and characters, and its more cautionary aspects may help rescue someone else’s savings and self-respect.
Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Distributed by: Amazon Australia
Released: August 2018
Approx RRP: $30 paperback, $10 eBook