Lucy is a single and successful glass-ceiling-shatterer. Only it’s not by choice. As glad as she is to have risen high in her profession, and as committed as she feels to helping other women achieve the same thing, what she wants more than anything is a baby. When she meets Jonah at somebody else’s baby’s christening and they hit it off, everything seems to be going in the right romantic direction for once, and when they get married a year later and Lucy immediately becomes pregnant, it seems like all her dreams have come true. Except that getting pregnant is not the same as having a baby.
Be warned: this is definitely a three-hanky tearjerker of a bittersweet story. Lucy’s heartbreak over her repeated miscarriages is wrenching, perhaps especially so set against the backdrop of the professionally sympathetic but distant medical care she has to undergo (note that this is a British novel, so the decision for Lucy to have what is technically an “abortion” to evacuate the remains of the non-viable fetal tissue is a non-issue; it’s handled promptly and automatically, with nary a protester/terrorist in sight. Which is fortunate, as Lucy is distraught enough). The fact that miscarriage is so common is hardly a comfort to Lucy: others come forward to tell her of their own lost pregnancies, but they eventually managed to carry a pregnancy to term, something she’s increasingly afraid she’ll be unable to do.
However, this is not just a weepy. While not as laugh-out-loud funny as Ben Elton’s hilarious Inconceivable also about a couple dealing with infertility, “The Idea of You” is full of irony and gently pointed social commentary about the lot of modern professional women, not to mention the problems of motherhood. Even as she longs for a baby, Lucy is aware that she doesn’t want to lose her career, something that would be entirely too possible, and her attempts to get along with her stepdaughter are initially fraught with failure. As much as Lucy wants to be a loving stepmum, she’s also a neat-freak with a controlling streak, and is unwilling to face up to the inappropriateness of her own jealousy when her husband prioritizes his daughter over everyone else.
Just when things seem to be going smoothly, there are a couple of MAJOR plot turns that I won’t reveal, but suffice to say that Lucy gets her happy ending, just not at all the one she was expecting. For all its potentially heavy subject matter, the book reads quickly, its plain prose style allowing Lucy to show through as an Everywoman (at least of a certain age and professional type) with simple, heartfelt emotions. While “The Idea of You” is not exactly Literature with a Capital L, it’s an extremely readable and engaging story about a woman dealing with real-world heartbreak and still finding a lot to love and laugh about along the way.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
“The Idea of You” goes on sale March 21. You can pre-order your copy here: The Idea of You
This blog uses Amazon Associate links.