Friday, November 9, 2018

The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee

The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee
Release Date - June 13, 2017
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  372 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.
The Idea Of You immediately caught my eye with it's unique premise. A woman dating a much younger man isn't something I routinely see in novels so I was intrigued to see how it would play out. Add to this the extra element of the younger man being a member of one of the world's largest boy bands and I was immediately sold. The Idea Of You ended up being a thought provoking read that extremely well executed.

Robinne Lee's ability to create characters you care about is perhaps one of her strongest talents as a writer. I immediately cared about Solène and her journey. We come to like Hayes and eventually come to care about their love story. This is a story you feel and become engrossed in and it is in large part because of the way the story is crafted.

The cost of fame and how much fame can take from someone is a large aspect of the story being told. We see how your personal life, and personal moments, are no longer personal. We see the toll the constant scrutiny has on the relationships the famous person has with others. The impact isn't just felt by the person who entered the spotlight but all of those who enter their orbit. This novel offers up a fascinating look at how it can easily unravel bonds and twist things to the point that they break.

I was cautious going in about the love story being told. I wasn't sure what an almost forty year old woman would have in common with a twenty year old man. I wasn't sure if the relationship would feel natural and healthy. I mainly wasn't sure what either of them could get from the relationship that would make it interesting and complex. I expected it to be surface level and mostly about the sex. The author adeptly address these concerns by making the characters benefit from each other in a lot of ways. The growth that they both have because of this relationship makes it feel genuine. It also helps that Hayes is shown to be more mature than his years. The logical issues that would naturally exist because of the age gap are addressed in a thought out manner that still manages to make the relationship feel viable. It works for this set of characters because of who they are and great care was taken to have this be the case. You , as a result, end up deeply caring about the romance, achingly so at times.

The romance also works because it builds naturally. What starts out as 'only lunch' turns into something fun and sexy. This morphs into feelings of affection that gradually turn into something deeper and more meaningful. It's a romance filled with memorable moments and a really great initial flirtation that highlights the electricity that is palpable to the reader. Robinne Lee made a relationship  that I wasn't sure would work impact me deeply. It was a relief because if the relationship doesn't resonate with the reader the novel itself wouldn't work.

There is a commentary here about women and how society views them as they age. One of Solène's worries is how the age gap between her and Hayes would look to those on the outside. This type of age gap is more commonly seen with older men dating younger woman and I think it is more easily accepted as well. The idea that Solène is considered less desirable as she ages is a notion that hovers over parts of this story. I like how the author circumvents this by making Solène more confident in herself even as she struggles with her worries. We don't see Solène devaluing herself even as she worries about what others may think. The entire commentary on the way society equates a woman's worth with her beauty is subtly, but effectively, woven in

There is a realism to this love story that is brought home by the inevitable ending. The ending may not necessarily be everything readers want it to be, but it is the most logical one based on the story being told. Those looking for a nicely wrapped up ending will not find that here but I think the book is made all the better because of it.

A story with a surprising amount to say about fame, love, and the aging of women. Fans of novels that make you want to discuss with others will love this one. It's a perfect book club pick because it has so many discussion worthy elements. Robinne Lee has definitely caught my attention as a author to watch out for and I cannot wait to read whatever she writes next (even if I do secretly hope it's a companion novel about one of the other August Moon members).

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