The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen

Thirty-five-year-old Ursula Byrne, VP of Strategic Audacity at a branding agency in Manhattan, is successful, witty, whip-smart, and single. She’s tried all the dating apps, and let’s just say: she’s underwhelmed by her options. You’d think that by now someone would have come up with something more bespoke; a way for users to be more tailored about who and what they want in a life partner––how hard could that be?

Enter The Arc: a highly secretive, super-sophisticated matchmaking service that uses a complex series of emotional, psychological and physiological assessments to architect partnerships that will go the distance. The price tag is high, the promise ambitious––a level of lifelong compatibility that would otherwise be unattainable. In other words, The Arc will find your ideal mate.

Ursula is paired with forty-two-year-old lawyer Rafael Banks. From moment one, this feels like the electric, lasting love they’ve each been seeking their whole adult lives. But as their relationship unfolds in unanticipated ways, the two begin to realize that true love is never a sure thing. And the arc of a relationship is never predictable...even when it's fully optimized.

What I thought

The first thing I noticed about The Arc was its statement bold cover design, which will immediately set it aside from its counterparts in the fiction genre. Designed by none other than one of my favourite book designers, Olga Grlic

It might have been love at first sight with the cover, and then I read the blurb, which told me this was a story aimed at fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Sally Rooney, and Rebecca Serle. Some of my favourite authors. I somehow knew that right away this was a novel I would love, and boy was I right. Hoen completely swept me away with her debut. 

It’s one of those books that you’ll open, read the first few lines of, and decide that yes, you’ve made the right decision, and yes, you’ll be devoting the next day of your life to reading. I messaged Hoen on Instagram as I was reading and told her that I would be glued to my couch, leaving only to boil the kettle for tea.

Protagonist Ursula Byrne was exceptionally well written, engaging, heartwarming, but most of all, she was downright hilarious. I adored getting to know Ursula as I excitedly turned the pages of The Arc, following along on her romantic escapades through the jungle of modern day dating apps. 

Ursula will be relatable to many. Even us guys out there who have swiped left and right to meet our one true love. I think her relatability and the fact that she’s realistic is what makes her so lovable as a character. She’s also super quirky and weird, in the best way possible.

It wasn’t just Ursula that I loved, it was all the characters in the book. They were just as captivating! Rarely does it happen that I read a book and fall for the characters like I did in this one.

Using Manhattan as a setting made me love this book even more. I’m in love with New York City, and I grew to imagine Ursula there, almost as a young Carrie Bradshaw at times: intelligent, wildly driven, successful, stylish, and navigating single life. 

Writing about a service like The Arc was intelligent of Hoen, I couldn’t help but wonder at times if that’s where we as a society are headed. It definitely added some depth and layering to the overall storyline. It was also an amusing and realistic take on startup culture, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Overall, I simply adored this story and couldn’t put it down. It was lighthearted, memorable, and beautifully written.

I’m looking forward to what Tory Henwood Hoen’s future has in store for her, and I can’t wait to see this glorious love story illuminating bookshelves when it goes on sale February 8th. It’s also available for pre-order now wherever books are sold.

My thanks to Raincoast Books, St Martin's Press, and author Tory for the advanced reader's copy.

Credit: Alexander Casertano

Tory Henwood Hoen is an American-Canadian writer whose work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit, Fortune, and others. Previously, she was an editor at New York Magazine, and Creative Director of Brand at women’s workwear startup M.M. LaFleur, where she founded the brand’s digital magazine, The M Dash. The Arc is her debut novel. She is a graduate of Brown University, and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

The Arc is available for pre-order (releasing February 8th) in hardcover format from Indigo and in e-book format from Kobo. Check GoodReads or Tory's website for a list of all other retailers.