Enter Wade Crawford – the dazzling, urbane, hotshot magazine editor of Meter. With gorgeous hazel eyes, strong shoulders, a chiseled face, and long blondish hair, he was everything that Allie ever thought she wanted in a man and a husband. Until she realized he was anything but.
In the fabulous and intrigue-packed new novel from Holly Peterson, the New York Times bestselling author of THE MANNY, THE IDEA OF HIM (William Morrow | April 1, 2014 | Paperback Original | $14.99 | ISBN: 9780062283108) explores the dangers of falling for the idea of a person, and why facing reality is more liberating than we ever dreamed it could be. For anyone who’s let the fear of being alone keep them from seeing who someone really is, THE IDEA OF HIM is an inspiring, action-packed story of what happens when we embrace our own power and allow the truth to finally set us free.
Allie Crawford is a once-aspiring screenwriter turned successful public relations executive, mother of two young children, with a marriage that feels more like a hostessing gig than it does a relationship. At thirty four, she is at a crossroads. Then she meets a head-turning, traffic-stopping beauty at the bar of the famed New York City Tudor Room. When Allie finds her husband Wade locked in their laundry room with this same stunning blonde, a scandal ensues that flips her life on its head. And when the woman wants to befriend Allie, an old flame calls, and a new guy gets a little too close for comfort, Allie starts to think her marriage is more of a façade than something real. Maybe she’s fallen in love not with Wade—but with the idea of him.
This intriguing blonde is Jackie Malone, a business school student at Wharton who appears unannounced in Allie Crawford’s world with an uncomfortable degree of information about her personal and professional life. Showing up at all the same parties, lunches, and with a seemingly quite intimate relationship with Allie’s husband, Jackie is a feisty, gorgeous, leggy fashionista that just might have the key to Allie’s future. If she can only learn to trust her.
As Allie and Jackie search for truth, they uncover scandals, betrayals, and financial crimes worthy of front page headline news. Swiftly-paced and electrifying, THE IDEA OF HIM follows their fast-growing friendship and the intimate, sexy conversations they have as Allie takes command of her life and learns to live on new terms that are alternately exciting and terrifying.
Set in present-day Manhattan among the city’s established and up-and-coming power brokers, many of them struggling to regain their equilibrium in a post 2008 crash world, all working various angles—legal and not—in an effort to either get ahead or simply keep up. Smack in the middle of New York’s upwardly mobile meritocracy is the hard-working Allie, refusing to let her working-class past cloud her fabulous present. Her story offers a ringside seat at the lunch-time haunts featured in the pages of Vanity Fair, and is a ticket to the exclusive media cocktail parties posted on Guest of a Guest. But as Allie’s world starts closing in on her and she can no longer deny who her husband actually is, she must figure out how to do it all – without him.
Read an excerpt from The Idea of Him...
CHAPTER 8 PULLED TOWARDS THE EDGE
While he was coming to quick terms with the idea that he’d finally found an attractive woman who cared about his world of nonstop news and gossip, right away, I knew that I too certainly liked the idea of this Wade Crawford man before me. He fit a need. His enthusiasm for life and work would soften my losses: my father in a plane to the ravages of an untimely blizzard and James to a burning obsession to save every child on the other side of the world.
New York glimmered around us that night, the way it can when spontaneity falls perfectly into place. After dinner, Wade escorted me to two downtown parties filled with cigarette smoke and writers. Someday I hoped to be like his writer friends who wrote long magazine stories and books that they’d mined from their souls. It was clear from every angle that Wade’s non-stop joie-de-vivre was more than contagious. He was sheer fun, and full of the possibility of escape, of renewal even.
He dropped me at my stoop at dawn, kissing me tenderly on the lips and disappearing into the early morning glow. As I watched him bounce down the street, all I could think was that he had Daddy’s electricity and confidence. And that suited me just fine.
THE IDEA OF HIM shows a woman determined to pick herself back up and reclaim her life, even as the fear of being alone threatens to lure her down the wrong path. As Allie struggles to care for her children, tend to her demanding boss, and navigate the high jinx in the psychological and financial game-playing happening all around her, we fall in love with her determination to root out the truth, and in doing so, finally put her own interests and needs front and center. Most of all, we see the power of female friendship as an unlikely ally – in the form of the mysteriously seductive Jackie Malone – helps Allie to finally see the truth about her husband. And it sets them both free.
Question & answer with Holly Peterson:
Why did you write this book?
I wanted to write about the phenomenon of falling in love with the “idea” of someone versus the reality of the actual person across the dinner table from us. I think it’s something we all have done. Once we are in a relationship, sometimes we delude ourselves into being happy, yet something doesn’t feel quite right. When reality hits, we must confront our fears of being on our own, and that can be frightening. Our fears of being on our own often propel us into staying with the wrong person.
I know I’ve personally fallen for the “idea” of someone numerous times because I have an idea in my head of what I want that person to be and how I’ll feel with him: the cool guy with the long hair will make me cool, the stable, appropriate guy will make me feel safe…I even fell for a Frenchman over how his cashmere blazer felt on my cheek! All that stuff doesn’t count in the end: the only thing that matters in my mind when it comes to love is an accompanying true friendship and deep intimacy.
Your first book, THE MANNY, was a New York Times bestseller and was also set in present day Manhattan. How much of what you see around you is also in this book?
I have written a fair amount of journalistic pieces on big money in New York. Money is deeply psychological in that it drives people to act insane and say the craziest things. Every time they do, I put the quote in a little book I carry around and use in my fiction. I have now written two romantic books that primarily focus on relationships but that have modern day Manhattan as a lively, current backdrop. The characters in my books are composites of people I know and the events are based on real things I’ve definitely seen with my own eyes.
You’re a journalist who’s worked at ABC News and written for magazines like Newsweek. How does that come into play when you’re writing fiction?
I am trained journalist by trade first and foremost. When I write a fictional scene, everything must be real and believable and accurate or it doesn’t feel right. That’s the joy of writing social satire in fiction. It’s all real, but it’s all so funny.
A friend of mine told me that fiction gets you closer to the truth because you don’t have the constraints of journalism when writing it. As a reporter, you often don’t have access to dinner parties or events or your interview subject doesn’t say the quote clearly and you are constrained by your access and sound bites. In fiction, you can write the living room cocktail party, go into the bedroom, relay the conversation in a totally realistic way that is technically very truthful and that is very liberating for me.
What was your greatest career mistake as a journalist?
While at ABC News, I once did a big piece for Peter Jennings declaring that the Internet would amount to nothing. You can find it on my website under the writings tab and ABC News icon. Brilliant prediction.
The main character in THE IDEA OF HIM is a hard-driving businesswoman with two young children, and she struggles to balance her home life with her career. Is that a struggle that came from a real place?
What woman doesn’t struggle with work, home, and family? Even women who don’t have a “paying” job work hard in a zillion ways that aren’t financially recognized: they maintain the value of the family’s home investment, help local charitable and religious institutions, and keep their neighborhoods and schools safe and the best they can be. So, yes, I write at 4am to avoid a barrage of email interruptions, yell at the Verizon repair man, cry when my boss yells at me, and worry non-stop about the emotional health of my children, their progress in school, and long term happiness and stability that I’m supposedly grounding for them. Who wouldn’t be nuts trying to do all this? We all are. I tried to depict a lot of this in THE IDEA OF HIM with Allie’s struggles so that people who read it can relate, cry, nod, and laugh.
In this book, the protagonist female character is not leading towards happiness with a man as her goal. Tell us about that.
I believe a lot of women’s fiction and tons of romantic comedies in Hollywood don’t get published or produced because executives feel women have to “get the guy” to be fulfilled and for the audience to leave happy and “relieved.” I did not want to add to that “fiction” and I wanted to write about the opposite: a woman finding strength on her own. How does she find what makes her most happy at work, at home, and in her personal life? The proverbial knight in shining armor or kissing Colin Firth in the rain is a nice, neat way to end a story for sure, but I wanted to write about the power within to make ourselves feel okay, safe, and, yes, happy. Lots of time in life to find the right guy who isn’t an “idea”, but first let’s focus on ourselves and what we want for a moment and prioritize that before we leap for the next or most convenient man to hopefully do it for us.
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.