I was provided an advanced copy of Patti Callahan Henry's new book entitled The Idea of Love. The book is available through St. Martin's Press starting June 23, 2015. The price for the Hardcover edition (256 pages) will be $25.99.
When I got offered the chance the review the new book by Ms. Henry I immediately jumped at the opportunity because I have read her books before and like the way she is able to make the story appear effortlessly, as if retelling a story that occurred in real life and does not represent a tale of fiction. The premise of her new book, which takes place in Watersend, South Carolina is the meeting of two people, both recovering from disappointments, and the relationship that forms between them. Sounds like a nice, typical story that ends in a life happily ever after. The only problem is that these two people are also really good at making up stories, one for a living as a writer, the other to hide a devastating disappointment. So can a relationship build on lies thrive and survive when the truth comes out? To uncover the answer to this question, the reader will have to read the book.
In her latest book, Ms. Henry picks two interesting characters as protagonists. There is the screenwriter Blake Hunter, who after several flops, is desperate for a hit, but suffers from writer's block. So he travels to Watersend to find inspiration for a love story. When he meets Ella, he pretends to be a writer for coffee table and history books, hiding the fact that he is looking for a real life love story that he can turn into a successful screenplay. Ella, on the other hands, pretends to be a wedding dress designer and tells Blake about how her husband died trying to save her. Blake thinks he found the hero and heroine for his love story that will yield a screenplay full of sacrifice and true love. What he does not realize is that Ella's lie is hiding the fact that her husband betrayed her with her best friend. Both protagonists realize an immediate attraction to each other, but the lies continue and what in the beginning was just a little white lie to hide the truth that hurt too much, soon becomes a true obstacle to a relationship that could turn both of their lives to the better. Things only get worse for the two when Ella suffers another disappointment and her husbands reappears, full of remorse and wanting to reconcile.
But leave it to Ms. Henry to tell a story that grows naturally despite the many twists and turns. Like real life, Ms. Henry's story is not without its bends and hills to climb. Ms. Henry excels at stories that could happen in real life with characters that are complex with flaws and all. This story is no different. While the reader may root for Ella and Blake to find love in the end, both characters have their flaws, weak moments and doubts. These are no superheroes nor is Ella a damsel in distress that the dashing Blake will find and rescue. No, Ella and Blake are people that had failed, failed more than once, and now are trying to pick up the pieces as best they can. Neither one is ready to trust a total stranger, so a few lies come in handy to hide the sad past that both had to live through. In these characters the reader may find parts of themselves; most of us have wished to just make up a story to give our lives more interest or to hide a sad episode when being introduced to new people. Fans of Ms. Henry will find the characteristic storytelling of the author again in this book, while readers new to Ms. Henry will find characters that draw you in and make you want to be part of this story.
Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of the book prior to publication for reading and review. The opinion provided in the post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.