The Arc: A Novel - book cover
Women's Fiction
  • Publisher : St. Martin's Press
  • Published : 08 Feb 2022
  • Pages : 352
  • ISBN-10 : 1250276772
  • ISBN-13 : 9781250276773
  • Language : English

The Arc: A Novel

"A thoroughly modern love story with an old-fashioned heart."
"Sure to satisfy fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Sally Rooney."
––E! Online
"Funny and modern, The Arc is like a rom-com's cooler big sister."
––Real Simple

Can you curate your soulmate? 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.

Editorial Reviews

"A thoroughly modern love story with an old-fashioned heart."

"Sure to satisfy fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Sally Rooney."
––E! Online

"The satirical (yet also surprisingly deep) take on dating app culture we all need."

"First-time novelist Hoen draws on her experiences at glossy magazines and a women's workwear start-up to perform her agile trend- skewering as she details their romance and the complications that threaten it at an indulgently hypnotic length, until the twist, or arc, arrives. With giddy hilarity and stabs to the heart, Hoen's heady cocktail of satire and celebration is a delectable addition to the dating-app and matchmaking rom-com list."

"Hoen raises some fascinating questions about love and relationships and ends on an optimistic note. The result is as thoughtful as it is thought-provoking."
––Publishers Weekly

"A delightful debut about love and dating and modern womanhood that asks as many questions about self-determination and free will as it answers."
––Shelf Awareness

"Funny and modern, The Arc is like a rom-com's cooler big sister. It's as much a satire as it is a romance, roasting our reliance on high-tech solutions for matters of the heart."
––Real Simple

"A little bit speculative, a little bit romance, and a little bit literary...thoughtful and entertaining."
––BuzzFeed Books

"Expect to fall in love with the characters while laughing out loud at the all too realistic, yet hilarious, jabs at startup culture. You'll reach the end and want to start all over again. Lovers of Rebecca Serle, Sally Rooney, and Taylor Jenkins Reid, this one was written for you."
––Daily Hive

"As wildly entertaining as it is inventive, Hoen's satire is dazzling. But it's her faith in human connection that resonates long after the last page."
––Nicola Kraus, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nanny Diaries

"Hoen has the rare combination of a satirist's eye and a romantic's soul. Populated though it may be with biz-whiz types, lifestyle apps, and start-up schemes, The Arc is, at its heart, about the inimitable qualities that mak...

Readers Top Reviews

Olivia F.
THE ARC is an intriguing and cerebral romance read. Ursula is 35 years old and making a name for herself in marketing. However, she feels lonely with only her cat as a constant in her life, and she wants a long-term romantic partner with all the trimmings- marriage, kids, the whole thing. When she is lamenting her lack of love, someone approaches with a card for The Arc, a high-end matchmaking service. As Ursula investigates, she decides their 40,500 fee may be worth it. They use a week-long procedure to evaluate their candidates fully, every aspect of their lives including food, the way they sleep, and psychology. Four weeks later, they get the contact information for their perfect match. Ursula is not fully sure what to expect, but the evaluation does give her incredible insights into herself. When she is matched to Rafael, a lawyer, she is surprised. When they meet, it feels like fate. Rafael is also delighted with Ursula and their budding relationship. However, at their check-in with The Arc, they learn there has been an issue - something that has the power to change everything for the two of them. Now, Rafael and Ursula must decide what course they want to chart for their lives and their potential love story. This was a really thought-provoking and cerebral read. The book is really about finding yourself, the difficulty of romance and relationships, and the way our lives can seem to carry us to a place we are not sure we want to be. Other themes around capitalism, compatibility, making mistakes, misunderstandings, and healthy disagreements are also intriguing. Much of it is a path to self-discovery. Ursula in particular does some evaluating of her career choices and where she really wants to be in her future, discoveries that parallel her search for love. The book definitely takes some unexpected twists and turns that keep the reader guessing about The Arc, their processes, and their clientele. Overall, THE ARC was an intriguing and unique contemporary fiction read with romance elements. Would recommend for people who enjoy thought-provoking speculative and cerebral fiction. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Lynn LatimerOlivi
Ursula Byrne has achieved much at age thirty-five in the high energy and very competitive world of marketing and branding start-ups while wooing venture capitalist to fund a host of ideas in this App obsessed world. Ursula is a bit of a split personality in that her business requires her to be a brilliant and entertaining highly skilled professional in Manhattan’s elite very competitive, intensely demanding market place. While she is all of those things, Ursula’s job puts pressure on her that is the very opposite of her artistic upbringing and nature. Ursula is tired of being alone and after a string of failed relationships, she is ready to try something very different. Ursula is done with swiping postage stamp size profiles, and the App dating scene, so when something unique and different come along, Ursula decides it just might be for her. The selective and secretive Arc program consists of a multifaceted series of tests including physical, psychological, and emotional as well a week-long program designed to identify and connect people with their optimal match. This very expensive process all but guarantees a perfect outcome for the matched couples according to the people who run it. Although highly skeptical, both Ursula and her eventual match, decide nothing else is working so they give it a go. Raphael Banks has been looking for the right relationship as well with very little positive achievement. At forty-two and a successful lawyer satisfied with his work, Raphael would like to find someone to be in a permanent relationship with and start a family. Once he an Ursula are matched, their relationship starts off in high gear; however, when the inevitable bumps occur, they begin to doubt whether this is the real thing. Once doubt leaks in with some seeming manipulation from the Arc program, Ursula and Raphael hit some real challenges. Ursula’s quirky personality and rarely unexpressed thoughts make her a challenge for Raphael to keep up with plus they both have personal baggage in the mix. The process Ursula and Raphael go through at the Arc matching service is designed to be not only self-revelatory, but guide the participants to understand exactly what they want out of life and a mate. Epiphanies, however, do not mean a smooth or easy road to love though the company would have its participants believe that, at least in the beginning. They continue to meddle in Raphael and Ursula’s lives; it is for the reader to decide it the Arc helps or actually hinders relationships. This book is a very intriguing, complex, and often times, highly navel gazing, self-assessing work. Sometimes the rapid fire self-actualizing internal monologue of the characters is like drinking from a fire hose. Some parts of this book are quite compelling and others are in eye rolling territory. I suspect the structure and style of the book is th...
MJBLynn LatimerOl
This charming book delivers a very modern New York love story but goes beyond its primary arc to illuminate and satirize some contemporary cultural influences familiar to us all. Written with a light touch, deft pacing, and an empathetic heart, this is an entertaining and rewarding read. Highly recommend.