Richard's life is unravelling: his beautiful wife, Valerie, is having an affair, his son Maxence may or may not be mentally disturbed, and the idyllic life he'd hoped for when they moved to Provence has become more nightmare than paradise. Suddenly, a routine trip to Africa to sell pharmaceuticals is more than he can handle and his life starts to implode as he realizes that the idea of a life full of that love he has cherished is a mere illusion.
For Richard and Valerie's neighbour Rachel, a trip to Africa also leads to feelings of confusion and doubt. Now Rachel, and her husband Jeff, as well as Richard and Valerie, are left groping for the things that once defined them. In this bold and tender story, both families find themselves desperately seeking the answer to one question: just what is the idea of love - and can it save them? But for the children in the story, the awkward unsettling Maxence and angelic Maud, the idea of love is much simpler...
'Engaging...it is hard to stop turning the pages...arresting...fizzes with talent.' Sunday Times
In her dark and witty third novel, Louise Dean evokes the loveless marriages of two couples living in Provence. Richard is the head of sales in Africa for a pharmaceutical company. He spends most of his time away on business, sleeping with strange women and pushing psychiatric drugs on a developing market where hearing voices is considered "a manifestation of witchcraft". Back in Provence, he and his wife, Valérie, no longer share a bed, and his teenage son, Maxence, is hearing voices of his own. When Richard begins an affair with a neighbour, Rachel, he discovers that Valérie, too, is having an affair - with Rachel's husband, Jeff. With wry humour, Dean captures the gloom of existences imploding in incongruous surroundings.' The Observer
'An acute, cynical wit... An unforgettable study of the dark side of the mind.' The Times
'Wonderfully complex and original novel about desire, disappointment and mental illness, largely set in ex-pat Provence...Louise Dean's lovely rendering of her awful people makes The Idea of Love an enormous delight.’ The Independent
'This dark novel is interesting and original, a study of love but not romance and a story with many morals.’ The Telegraph
‘An acute, cynical wit… An unforgettable study of the dark side of the mind.’ The Times. ‘In her third novel, Louise Dean regards with a sardonic eye a group of scalded lovers ricocheting between desire, despair and dipsomania.....Dean's portrayal of Maxence's madness and his mission to save souls is tender and funny, and lifts the novel far above the torrid soul-searching of its narcissistic lovers.’ The Guardian
'Louise Dean's third novel is a careful dissection of our search for love in its many forms – sexual, religious, parental, and brotherly....Dean has a deliciously wry eye for the convincing detail.’ Literary Review
'An unusual but fascinating story that examines the different ways in which people face the harsh realities of love gone wrong.’ Tatler