The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry – Review 5 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 Nicholas Sparks-esque screenwriter lacking inspiration in the wake of his divorce, Blake is desperately in search of a love story beautiful enough to translate into big screen success. Disguising himself as a travel writer, he treks down the east coast to sleepy southern Watersend in search of a love story he can borrow. When he speaks with the young and beautiful Ella Flynn, he’s convinced he has his screenplay: Ella’s beloved husband died saving her life. It’s the perfect love story for his audiences…and it’s also a lie.

Reeling from the shock of her very much alive husband’s affair, Ella is lost. When she speaks to Blake and dismisses him as a stranger she’ll never see again, she creates the life she wants and paints herself as a successful wedding dress designer recovering from her saintly husband’s sacrificial death.

Drawn to each other’s lies and grappling with their flawed understandings of love, Ella and Blake’s chance meeting gradually leads to more encounters and a larger web of deceit. As Blake and Ella bind themselves tighter with the lies they tell, the inevitable unraveling of their stories will end as neither imagined.

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times Bestselling author –Losing the Moon, Where the River Runs, When Light Breaks, Between the Tides, The Art of Keeping Secrets, Driftwood Summer and The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story, Coming Up for Air, And Then I Found You and The Stories We Tell.

Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction and twice a nominee for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Book of the Year. Patti is hailed as a fresh new voice in southern fiction. She is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups where she discusses the importance of storytelling and anything else they want to talk about.

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 where she is crafting her next novel.

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My Review –

I loved the concept of the book. It was different from anything I’ve read before. The book opens with a screenwriter looking for a story and as the book progresses, we follow his journey as he looks for the next idea that will put his past two failures to rest. He is looking for a story behind every conversation, every pair of glasses, every look.

It is also not only a book of love, but one of deceit, along with surprising twists and turns.

In his mind, he was already writing her – the woman who stood at the patio table with her eyes closed and her face lifted to the sky.”

“He scanned the room, twisting around to see a group of women seated at a round table. Six of them. Or was it seven” All coiffed and wearing cute sundresses and wedged heels, and not a man in sight…Surely one of them had a story. When women got together, what did they talk about? Not baseball scores or football stats or the crisis in the Middle East. If women were huddled together at a bar and all dolled up, it was time to talk about love.

I liked the book. I felt it was well-written and entertaining. The characters were quite likable and real. I am giving The Idea of Love five stars.

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