Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 6/23/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
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?
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
THE IDEA OF LOVE by southern master storyteller, Patti Callahan Henry, a contemporary magical story of love and life (with a beautiful front cover drawing you in) -- of two people searching for something, and the lengths they go to find it. A journey of reinvention, and finding what really matters in life, mixed with wit and southern humor.
One man is searching for a love story to save his career. A woman is searching for a love she had and lost, both pretending to be someone and something else, hiding behind a fasçade -- When the real "flawed" person may be just what the other needs.What if love is more of an idea than a real thing? If it was just an idea we carry around, why the weight of sadness?
Set in Watersend, SC in the coastal LowCountry, Ella thought she had it all-- a beautiful home, a loving husband, her friends, her life, and her things. However, one day, her husband chose someone else and her life was over, or so she thought. How could she have missed the signs of a mistress, especially her best friend’s sister? To complicate matters, it is her husband’s house, so she had to be the one to move, into a dump furnished apartment with little money. Now no friends, no life, no husband, no home, no possessions. She dreams constantly of getting her home, her things, her husband back. Is it an idea of love she wants, or the cheating man himself?
Screenwriter Hunter (Blake) from LA needs a hit, and his last several movies are not cutting it. He has writer’s block and desperately needing a good love story for his next film. He needs inspiration. His personal love life has not been so smooth either. He decides to go about it pretending he is a travel writer of history books, a coffee table book, when he meets Ella at the coffee shop to draw out a story—fate steps in. However, the story he is writing is not really her real story but only a made up version.
Ella does not want anyone to know of her sad “loser” life, so she makes up this huge story that her loving husband died in a boating accident going after her hat, sacrificing himself for her, and now she is a grieving widow. She makes him think she is a successful wedding designer, and lives at the home where she lived previously with white picket fence perfect. No way she would allow him to see where she really lives. She actually works at a bridal shop running errands for her boss. She has a portfolio, but her boss does not think she has talent, or does she?
They both are being untruthful with one another, with lies upon lies, but at the time, they do not count on seeing each other in the future – like a few white lies, who will know? However, the more Ella sees Hunter, the more she actually enjoys herself and at the same time, Hunter is getting a possible good story and likes this person, or the person he thinks she is.
Ella is living in a rundown furnished apartment with a neighbor who has a barking loud dog. When she goes over to the neighbor’s house, she meets Mimi. Mimi is an older woman who lives alone with her dog. She previously owned a successful bookstore in town and had it all. Now she resides in this broken down old apartment, but somehow she loves her life and has a great attitude – full of optimistic hope.
Mimi has learned to live with the now, not the future, or the past. She has experienced great loss in her time with her personal and professional life. Ella likes her outlook on life, and is drawn to the woman and becomes her friend, letting her in on her secret of lies. Mimi lost everything and she is getting along ok. She escaped to a world of books, so her books and friends filled her life and they still do.
Mimi accepts the unacceptable. How can this woman be so wise? Does accepting mean you recognize you can’t do anything about it. You cannot fix it. You cannot change someone’s heart. You cannot make someone love you. Only YOU have what you’re looking for. Mimi’s wise words, “ There is always something you can do, say, create, read, breathe, eat, make, laugh, and then—who knows what—something always happens next.”
All Ella really wants to do is design wedding dresses at Swept Away, the premier wedding boutique in the Low Country. She had been there for six months and hired by Margo the owner to learn all the departments from the ground up. Margo is a designer and Ella had taken her designs more than once to Margo with her saying that’s sweet and nothing more. She was sick of brides every day, and she was sick of living in a crap apartment and she couldn’t imagine a happy ending. It was a curse.
However, she soon may find the old life and the perfect home may not necessarily add up to real love. There are other unresolved issues with her mother’s death and the way she treated her father Ella has to make right. When something happens at work and her personal life, she steps up to the plate to attain what she wants with confidence and passion. Could there be a future for this odd couple with their fake identities?Fun, fun . . Reinvention time, and possibly some life left for these two.
“A release, a surge of energy, rose from Ella’s chest. The hole that had been there, the one she thought she needed to fill with him, now filled with something else. Strength and resilience. A sense of her own worth. It wasn’t him she wanted back; it was love she wanted. Love.”
I loved Mimi's character,with her mean pound cake, and her bourbon which offers a cure for everything wrong in the world, and her visits with Ella.
A long time fan of Patti Callahan Henry, one of the top writer’s in the Southeast, of women’s fiction, have read all her books and she never disappoints; as each time she delivers more than a chicklit, or women's fiction, there is always a heartfelt message and takeaway, which remains with you long after the books ends.
Fans of Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe, Wendy Wax, Mary Kay Andrews, Sarah Pekkanen, Beth Hoffman, and Susan Rebecca White, will enjoy this warmhearted contemporary southern tale of unexpected love and important life lessons. Do not rely so much on others to make your happiness – create your own.
On a personal note: I had to laugh about John Smoltz (being an Atlanta gal most of my life prior to Florida) and served on the board of directors for years with YES! Atlanta, Youth Experiencing Success with at-risk teens, and sponsorship chairman for our annual Outback Steakhouse/Braves Golf Tournament--have so many photos with the baseball star, and yes, unfortunately guys in the south do love their sports and obsessed with baseball cards!
About the Author
Patti Callahan Henry is the New York Times Bestelling novelist of eleven novels. Her latest is THE IDEA OF LOVE with St. Martins Press.
Patti grew up as a Minister’s daughter, learning early how storytelling effects our lives. She grew up spending her summers on Cape Cod where she began her love affair with the beach, ocean, tides and nature of the coast. Moving south at the tender age of twelve, she found solace in books and stories. While attending Auburn University, she met a southern boy who later proposed on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, next to a historic lighthouse overlooking the Sound. After earning her Master’s degree in Child Health, Patti worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist until her first child was born.
Patti is a full time writer, wife and mother living with her husband and three children in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Website Twitter