- Title: The Idea of Love
- Author: Patti Callahan Henry
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Pub. date: June 23, 2015 – St. Martin’s Press
- Source: Publisher
Synopsis: 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? (publisher)
My take: Ella and Hunter have not had success in the love department. So what can happen if they embellish the truth when they meet? They won’t see each other again so what’s the harm in telling a few fibs?
Patti Callahan Henry’s novel explores reality vs. the way we think love should be. I felt kind of sorry for Ella. She’s been left by the people she loved. Her mother died in a horrible way and her husband found the love of his life (not Ella, apparently). And then her boss does some shady things. I’d have been surprised if Ella didn’t go a little crazy.
Hunter’s last few films have been critical flops. He needs to write a winning script or he’ll be done in Hollywood. When he ends up in Ella’s town looking for ideas he can’t believe his luck when he meets her. Unable to resist Ella’s story, he takes the facts of her sad tale and writes a script. He’s lied to her about his identity and job so she’ll never find out what he’s done with her story.
My favorite character was the woman who lived below Ella’s (temporary) apartment. Mimi was colorful and imparted wisdom like a fairy godmother. She quietly forced Ella to get out of her own head and start asking herself the important questions.
Confused yet? I wasn’t. I liked the novel even though I thought the end a bit too Hollywood. There would be a few things for book groups to discuss – most importantly the idea of love and how one might be tempted to try to make it reality.
Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling storyteller of eleven books, including The Stories We Tell, Between the Tides, and Driftwood Summer. Patti lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her husband and three children, where she is crafting her next story.