How much would you pay to find the perfect partner? It seems like a ridiculous, borderline offensive question. The reflexive answer is, “I would never pay for love.” But, if we’re honest, we’re already paying, albeit indirectly, the outfit we bought to wear on a date, the visit to the only stylist in town who can make our hair look less weird, picking up the tab for coffee on the first I’m-still-not-sure-I-want-this-to-be-a-date date. So it’s all transactional to some degree.
In The Arc, Ursula is fresh from a disastrous first date that ended in a cab, where she throws up, narrowly missing her date’s shoes with her recycled dinner. Ursula will debrief with her BFF Issa the next day at an all-female, entirely self-conscious spa called “The Stake.” While there, a stranger who overheard her dating lament hands Ursula a business card containing just two words – The Arc – and a URL.
The Arc is an exclusive, costly, personalized service that guarantees to pair its members with the perfect life partner. Their methods are an unorthodox combination of psychology and pseudoscience, unfolding in a five-star spa environment. Ursula decides to take the plunge and pairs with Rafael.
Although the approach of The Arc seems clinical, the novel is anything but that. I was as invested in Ursula and Rafael’s happy ending as if I’d plunked down $40,000 myself to bring them together. There is so much intelligent social commentary in this novel, but it’s the characters who will keep you turning the pages.
p.s. Hulu, this book has limited series written all over it. Please don’t make me wait too long.
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