“As we like to say,” Dr. Vidal continued, “Love is particular. You’re an individual — you’re not a ‘type’/ You deserve to be with someone who appreciates you for your idiosyncrasies, and vice versa. What it comes to love, we want you to believe that anything is possible.“
Torey Henwood Hoen’s debut novel The ARC is about a dating agency of the same name ( Corvus imprint, Atlantic Books). The protagonist, Ursula Byrne, a successful architect, pays a hefty fee to subscribe to their services. Eighty percent of US$40,500 is to be paid upfront and twenty percent after eighteen months of the client having spent time with the partner they were introduced to via the dating app. Ursula is introduced to Rafael and they have an immediate connection. But it takes them a while to recognise that they are meant for each other, while being plagued by doubts about the dating agency. The ARC is a crackling mix of light romantic fiction with some literary fiction qualities and a magnificent dose of a strong, independent woman. Increasingly commercial fiction has stronger women characters who are phenomenal role models for their readers. It is a segment of readers that are probably less than thirty five years and are probably not as well versed with the intricacies of various women’s movements but are benefitting from the many freedoms won. Reading The ARC confirms this viewpoint that Ursula is very capable of standing her own in any kind of a corporate set up but her vulnerability is visible when she is alone at home with her adopted cat. The ARC has a very predictable ( but extremely satisfying) conclusion but it is probably exactly what we need to read in this neverending pandemic. It reminds us of the joy that can be experienced in simple acts such as finding the right person to love.
And when coincidentally, tweets like this pop up on Valentine’s Day when I was reading the book, you know that such books like The ARC will exist for a very long time. Dating apps, matchmakers, dating websites and matrimonial sites will never go out of fashion. Nor will literature based upon romance. Everyone wants to experience it at least once.
The ARC is enjoyable.
14 Feb 2022