Allie Crawford is a once aspiring screenwriter turned successful public relations executive, mother of two young children, and wife of a hotshot magazine editor whose power base spans the worlds of finance, fashion, culture, entertainment, and society. At 34, she finds herself at a crossroads: between the office and her home, her life has become an endless rotation of people pleasing-whether pulling rabbits out of hats for her mogul boss, entertaining advertisers and phony A-listers for her husband's magazine, or making elaborate costumes for children's school plays. At least, that is, until she meets a head turning, traffic stopping beauty at the bar of the famed Four Seasons Grill Room-where many of the novel's players regularly convene-and shortly thereafter finds the same woman and her husband in an apparently compromising position in her own apartment.
And so begins the story of two very different women bound by similar missions-to uncover the crimes and betrayals of various men in their lives and finally put their own interests front and center. For Mary this ultimately means leaving a husband who is ideal in theory but not in practice, and deciding to risk security for self-fulfillment and a new life on her own. Like so many women, Mary fell for the man she married when she was in her twenties only to realize years later that it wasn't him she fell for as much as it was the idea of him-the idea of a savior who would protect and provide and ferry her from her past into the future. But the guy who seemed so right at the time turned out to be nothing more than a fantasy.
"The Idea of Him" is an aptly-named look at the world of a high-gloss, heavy-paper magazine (which, as one character puts it, is increasingly irrelevant to anyone with a tablet). It is a world where image is more important than reality, what people think is happening is not the same as what is actually happening, and ignorance is definitely not bliss.
Allie goes through life performing miracles - for everyone but herself. She is a great hostess for her husband, a caring mother and the glue that holds the PR firm (run by her larger-than-life boss) together. And Allie can do this because of what she believes to be true: that the life she has is secure and happy.
Then the rain starts to fall. Her boss puts increasingly ridiculous demands on her time doing PR for a film festival, for which the 'flagship' movie is crap and stars a beautiful model who couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. *drip* One of the festival's main financial backers comes into Allie and Wade's home, and punches her husband Wade in the middle of a party for the glitterati. *drop* And she sees her husband come out of their laundry room followed closely by a woman who is a little too beautiful and dressed a little too well. *DOWNPOUR*
Said female (Jackie) hints that Wade might be dabbling in things other than other women, and that Allie should watch her back. But what is Allie to believe?
No wonder 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. People get caught up in the 'romance' of it all, and think marriage is some sort of happiness all wrapped up with a big shiny bow nirvana. Then they realize they might not be at Heaven's doorstep quite yet. Sometimes the spouses (be they male or female) have the proverbial bad hair days.
One of the greatest things for me about "The Idea of Him" is that it shows that love is possible while cautioning that there is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of realism to go with it. Skydiving may be a thrilling sport, but it will end badly if you jump with only the idea of a parachute strapped to your back.
"The Idea of Him" is a wonderful life lesson wrapped up in an entertaining story of discovery.
Holly Peterson is the author of the New York Times and international best seller, The Manny. She was a Contributing Editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Tina Brown's Talk magazine. She was also an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC news for more than a decade, where she covered global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, Newsweek, Talk, the Daily Beast, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and other publications.
(Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publisher, via Virtual Author Book Tours, in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was requested, offered or received.)