To analyze love is to find there is no there there. So it seems to Dr. Hector, a French psychiatrist wearied by the daily litanies of floundering romance.
Hector thinks he loves Clara. In fact, he once wanted to marry her. Now Clara wants marriage, but Hector is unsure. Love's puzzles inspire Hector to begin noting "Seedlings," thoughts on love's joy and pain. Clara works for a giant pharmaceutical company, perhaps Swiss, and thus emblematic of its utilitarian attitude toward love. The company invites Hector to a tropical isle to meet other experts, one a caricature of Dr. Ruth, and discusses the chemistry of love. Hector learns the company has already made progress on a pill to induce and perpetuate love. The formula, however, has been stolen by its creator, Dr. Chester Cormorant. Hector knows Cormorant, and he is persuaded by Gunther, the company's president, to find the missing scientist. That Hector will be half-a-world away will also ease the tension in Gunther and Clara's secret love affair. The search begins in Cambodia where Hector learns Cormorant wants to contact him, and convince him of the pill's effectiveness. In fact, Hector takes one, and gives another to Vayla, a beautiful masseuse to whom he is attracted. The pair promptly begin a sweetly passionate love affair. Hector also meets the mysterious Jean-Marcel, supposedly a sales representative, and two young female Japanese tourists. The action moves to Shanghai where the pills are tested. Pandas are involved, in a thoroughly sardonic fashion. By novel's end, Jean-Marcel, Clara, Gunther, Hector and the Japanese pair end up among the Gna-Doas, a lost Tibetan tribe in the Southeast Asian jungles. At this point, Hector has written 27 "Seedlings," all reminding him that "love is indeed complicated, difficult, and sometimes painful..."
Told in a wry, ironic, self-deprecating voice that sometimes addresses the reader, Lelord's second novel (Hector and the Search for Happiness, 2010) should intrigue readers of his first.