Book Review: Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse

Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse
Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse - Random Things Tour poster

When it comes, will it come without warning, 
Just as I’m picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning, 
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather? 
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether? 
O tell me the truth about love.

O Tell Me the Truth About Love ~ W.H. Auden

Thank you Random Things Tours for the chance to read and review this book!

Tell Me The Truth about Love by Susanna Abse came out on the 19th of May, 2022. The book is 221 pages long and was published by Ebury Press, which is a Penguin Imprint. It is also Susanna Abe’s first published book. It’s based on Susanna’s experience as a psychoanalytic therapist (she started practising in 1991), and while it’s technically non-fiction, in the interest of privacy (and just not being terrible) Susanna has blurred the lines between a few of her clients.

While the premise seemed really interesting, I was unsure of how I would feel about reading a therapists point of view of their patients. Confidentiality is a really important thing; would I go to a therapist if I thought they would include a chapter about me in their book? Absolutely not; I would much rather suffer. This is why I felt a lot better after reading the authors note in the front where she acknowledges that she’s drawn from her experience to describe scenarios, rather than take people’s actual stories.

Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse
Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse

Susanna is a good writer. She doesn’t make any of these stories feel staged or stilted. She’s also honest about her owns shortcomings and about the situations where she could have done better, and even the ones where things don’t work because the patients aren’t that invested. I also loved the chapter titles, which are support creative! I think this is a solid book if you’d like to understand more about yourself and the way people around you think.

I read something similar in the past, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Salon. While that book was a bit more entertaining, I feel like Abse was infinitely gentler about her patients, which means if you’re interested in something like this, Tell Me The Truth About Love will be more palatable.

Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse

Blurb for Tell Me the Truth About Love

Drawing on more than 30 years of working closely with people who have encountered hurdles in their love lives, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, former chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, and presenter of Channel 4 News ‘Britain on the Couch’, Susanna Abse, takes us deep inside one of the most fascinating realms there is: other people’s relationships.

The 13 case histories in this book are inspired and informed by tens of thousands of sessions with many hundreds of patients. These stories, which take us deep into the heart of the consulting room, shed light on some of the universal themes and eternal dilemmas we face in our love lives.

The result is a book of solace, wisdom, and insight into how, and why, we love.

Susanna Abse

About the Author

SUSANNA ABSE is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who has worked in private practice with couples, individuals and parents since 1991.

She is the chair of The British Psychoanalytic Council and spent a decade as CEO of the charity Tavistock Relationships. She has also recently been presenting Britain on the Couch for Channel 4 News and contributes regularly as an expert on print features about relationships.

She has published widely on couple therapy, parenting, and family policy and how these areas need to be at the heart of progressive welfare provision, a subject on which she lectures and teaches.

Susanna is a Senior Fellow of the Tavistock Institute for Medical Psychology, a fellow of the Centre for Social Policy at Dartington; a previous Leadership Fellow at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, as well as a Member of the Advisory Board of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis. She is also Co-Editor of The Library of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis for Routledge Books. Between 2016-18, she was a member of the University of Birmingham mental health policy commission “Investing in a Resilient Generation”.

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