Published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-228310-8
Trade paperback, $14.99, 384 pages
In Holly Peterson's newest novel, The Idea of Him, Allie is a PR whiz, toiling away for years for Murray Hillsinger and his clients, mostly people in the entertainment business who want a higher profile or who want people to forget their misdeeds. Her big project is the Fulton Film Festival, whose big investor is Max Rowland, a Texas garage magnet who just finished serving a prison sentence for fraud.
She is married to Wade, the editor of a Meter, a Vanity Fair-style magazine that profiles big stars, and in the past broke big stories about corruption. Times are tough for Meter, like most print magazines, and Wade is struggling to maintain his position in a world where anyone who reads magazines reads them on their Ipad or tablet.
When Allie catches Wade in their laundry closet with a hot young woman during a party she is helping Wade throw for Meter advertisers, she is devastated. She caught Wade cheating years ago when their young daughter was just a baby, but she believed that to be a one-time thing.
She confronts Wade and he hisses that she doesn't understand, he'll explain later. Allie then chases after the woman, Jackie, who tells Allie that she wasn't having sex with her husband, but she was looking for a flash drive Wade had that she needed.
Jackie weaves a crazy story that implicates Wade, Allie's boss Murray and his investor Max in some complicated financial scheme that she claims she will eventually explain to Allie, but right now she needs Allie's help.
Allie is thrown for a loop; why should she trust this complete stranger whom she believes is having an affair with her husband? Jackie seems to always be around in the background when there is trouble; is she the cause or is she telling Allie the truth?
Allie now wonders if she made a mistake marrying Wade instead of her best friend since high school James, who became a doctor working overseas to help children (think Doctors Without Borders). She and James still talk frequently, and they have a complicated past that began during a traumatic experience.
She also is attracted to Tommy, whom she met in her screenwriting class. Tommy is young, hot and reckless and he pursues Allie relentlessly. There are a few explicit sex scenes that may leave readers hot and bothered.
Given that this week's biggest story is about stock market manipulation as described in Michael Lewis's book Flash Boys, the timing of The Idea of Him with its similar theme is fortuitous. I confess that although my knowledge of the financial markets is rather limited, I found this storyline fascinating.
Another theme is women relying on men to take care of them. Allie relied on James, then married Wade because he reminded her of her late father, and nearly jumped into a relationship with Tommy while still married. Will she take a step back and realize that she is strong enough to take charge of her own life? That is another interesting aspect of the novel.
I have to say that I usually don't completely dislike characters, but I found Wade to be despicable. His behavior towards his wife was appalling and I found it hard to believe that Allie ever found anything redeeming about him. There is also another minor character who is just as awful, but to name her would be a spoiler; when you read it, you'll find out who she is.
The mystery of what exactly Wade is involved in elevates this novel above the usual chick lit. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was doing what to whom and the resolution is satisfying. The setting is New York City, and Peterson nails the arrogant entitlement attitude of some of the one percenters.
rating 4 of 5
Holly Peterson's website is here.
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on this tour. The rest of Holly's tour is here.
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