Review: The Idea of Love

July 10, 2015 Uncategorized 2

The Idea of Love

  • Written by:  Patti Callahan Henry
  • Published by:  St. Martin’s Press, June 23, 2015
  • Length:  256 pages
  • Source:  Final of copy of book sent by Sullivan and Partners LLC, publicist for consideration of review

Summary:  As we like to say in the south: “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Ella’s life has been completely upended. She’s young, beautiful, and deeply in love—until her husband dies in a tragic sailing accident while trying save her. Or so she’ll have everyone believe. Screenwriter Hunter needs a hit, but crippling writers’ block and a serious lack of motivation are getting him nowhere. He’s on the look-out for a love story. It doesn’t matter who it belongs to.

When Hunter and Ella meet in Watersend, South Carolina it feels like the perfect match, something close to fate. In Ella, Hunter finds the perfect love story, full of longing and sacrifice. It’s the stuff of epic films. In Hunter, Ella finds possibility. It’s an opportunity to live out a fantasy – the life she wishes she had because hers is too painful. And more real. Besides. what’s a little white lie between strangers?
But one lie leads to another, and soon Hunter and Ella find themselves caught in a web of deceit. As they try to untangle their lies and reclaim their own lives, they feel something stronger is keeping them together. And so they wonder: can two people come together for all the wrong reasons and still make it right?

My Thoughts:  I believe in love, that some kind of young girl happily ever after love.  I also know all about broken hearts and mistakes and lies.  In The Idea of Love the two main characters, Ella and Hunter, also believe and have lived through these things.  In the search for moving on and finding the next good thing they start out all wrong, one lie, another lie, and like all lies, they keep rolling, and who can possibly keep their lies straight?

Patti Callahan Henry has written a tender and sweet novel about two people who start off all wrong.  Somehow Hunter’s lie doesn’t seem so wrong, I mean if you’re in search of a love story to write about, who cares that you tell a little white lie about  your  trip to the South.  Uncovering history could be just as intriguing as uncovering great love…right?  Ella tells her lie just to be done with her past, her husband who is alive and well has hurt her, so saying he died, in a tragically beautiful gesture of love, isn’t so bad…is it?  She never expected to keep seeing Hunter.  She didn’t intend to help him with his book, or keep meeting him and opening her heart to him.

What they both find is how they are living lives full of lies, full of unfulfilled desires and they both needed an extra kick in the pants to get moving.

One of the best small part characters ever written is found in that of Ella’s neighbor Mimi.  She is older, wiser, a former bookstore owner.  They meet because  of Mimi’s incessantly barking dog, but become fast friends.  Ella doesn’t seem to realize how she is opening up to Mimi, sharing about her work, her ex-husband, her best friend, and of course Hunter.  Mimi serves up her wisdom with whiskey and pound cake….what could be sweeter?

I love a short summer read, and this book was spot on.  I liked the quirky characters and the crazy things Ella did in an effort to get what she wanted.  The evolution of what love is, more than an idea, but I distinct reality was brilliantly woven in, amid the gorgeous back drop of the South Carolina small town.  If you’re looking for something for pure escapism and pleasure, pick up The Idea of Love, you won’t regret it.

I had the pleasure of seeing Patti again last week at the Vero Beach Book Center.  She is a charming speaker, and a dear friend.

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