The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry

  • the idea of love (6:23) St.MartinsPressTitle:  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 TellBetween the Tides, and Driftwood Summer. Patti lives in Mountain Brook, Alabama with her husband and three children, where she is crafting her next story.


 

The Stories We Tell: A Novel by Patti Callahan Henry

  • the stories we tell (Sept4)Title:  The Stories We Tell: A Novel
  • Author:  Patti Callahan Henry
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  June 2014 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Sullivan and Partners

Synopsis:  Eve and Cooper Morrison are Savannah’s power couple. They’re on every artistic board and deeply involved in the community. She owns and operates a letterpress studio specializing in the handmade; he runs a digital magazine featuring all things southern gentlemen. The perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new, Eve and Cooper are the beautiful people. The lucky ones. And they have the wealth and name that comes from being part of an old Georgia family. But things may not be as good as they seem. Eve’s sister, Willa, is staying with the family until she gets “back on her feet.” Their daughter, Gwen, is all adolescent rebellion. And Cooper thinks Eve works too much. Still, the Morrison marriage is strong. After twenty-one years together, Eve and Cooper know each other. They count on each other. They know what to expect. But when Cooper and Willa are involved in a car accident, the questions surrounding the event bring the family close to breaking point. Sifting between the stories—what Cooper says, what Willa remembers, what the evidence indicates—Eve has to find out what really happened. And what she’s going to do about it.  (publisher)

My take:  The Stories We Tell opens with a storm brewing outside Eve Morrison’s window one evening. To her it feels like an omen. Her feeling proves correct when a policeman arrives to take her to a hospital where her husband and sister have been admitted after a car accident. Eve can’t figure out why they would’ve been in the car together. That is just the first of many questions she’ll be seeking answers to.

Eve married Cooper for good reasons (she’d told herself) but now she wonders if they were the right reasons. The last straw is when Cooper blames Willa (Eve’s sister) for the car accident. Eve is certain he is hiding something and wonders if she can trust her husband anymore. On top of that, their seventeen-year-old daughter is acting out big time. It’s all Eve can do just to keep the peace in her own house. What will she do when her questions are answered?

Patti Callahan Henry’s novel is about a marriage and appearances and what happens when appearances aren’t what they seem. It’s about the fallout from fibs and stories and lies.I loved how all the strings of the story were woven together by the end of the novel. I wouldn’t expect to feel any other way about one of Patti Callahan Henry’s books. I’m a fan and recommend The Stories We Tell to fans of the author and Contemporary Southern Fiction.