A razor-sharp and seductively hypnotic debut novel about the very fantasy of falling in love.

Emily didn’t join the cast of The One for fame or for a relationship. She simply didn’t have anything better to do. Newly fired from her dead-end job, it doesn’t take much convincing when she’s recruited as a last-minute contestant for the popular reality dating show. Emily has been performing her entire life—for her family and friends, former boyfriends, and coworkers. How different could it be playing herself in front of cameras?

But the moment Emily arrives, it becomes clear she’s been tapped to win it all. Emily’s producer Miranda sees her as the golden ticket: generically pretty, affable, and easily molded—all the qualities of a future Wife. Emily herself is less certain. It’s easy enough to fall in love under romantic lighting and perfectly crafted dates, but it’s harder to remember what’s real and what’s designed. And as Emily’s fascination with another contestant grows, both Emily and Miranda are forced to decide what it is they really want—and what they are willing to do to get it.

A brilliant send-up of our cultural mythology around romance, The One examines the reality of love and desire set against a world of ultimate artifice and manipulation.
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“[A] fast-paced and literary debut novel…The One manages to be entertaining in its examination of behind-the-scenes, and searing and true in its send-up of love.” Salon

“A clever spin on the reality TV romance craze.” Elle

“[A] smart debut…Argy takes on voyeurism, feminism, and gender norms, as Emily wonders if she really ought to put all her energy into finding love, which is what she was conditioned to do all her life.... [A] winning portrait of a young woman trying to come into her own.” Publishers Weekly

“Argy is fantastic at showcasing the subtle power dynamics among Dylan, the women, and the producers in all iterations.... A reality TV novel stripped of fluff and fantasy.” Kirkus Reviews

“Fans of reality TV will appreciate the insider feel first-time novelist Argy creates for her version of a very famous dating show….The characters are flawed and likeable….It’s up to readers to decide if they’re disturbed or charmed and amused by Argy’s knowing satire. A pop-culture send-up bound to inspire lively discussions.” Booklist

“Riveting, astute and darkly comic, The One takes us behind the scenes of reality television: Julia Argy’s delicious novel is more engrossing than the show itself.” –Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children and The Burning Girl

"I could not stop reading Julia Argy's smart, funny, and tender debut novel about falling in love and finding oneself on and offscreen. Set in the world of reality TV and populated by unforgettable women, The One is everything I want in a novel - deliciously readable prose, a surprising love story, and insights that linger long after the last page. It's a stunner, and I'm counting the days until Argy's next book." –Julie Buntin, author of Marlena

The One is a whip-smart exploration of what happens when the pursuit of romance is performed for an audience, and the line between the scripted and the real begins to blur. Julia Argy is tremendous on desire, ambition, and self-invention in this sharply funny and powerfully moving debut.” –Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

“Incessantly sharp and consistently funny, The One shows how the strange, singular experience of being a contestant on a reality dating show pales in comparison to the strange, singular experience of figuring out who you are. Argy packs an incisive examination of how external perception clashes with self-perception into a novel that’s never less than captivating and delightful. This is a memorable story about how our desires define us, and how we don’t know who we really are until we know what we really want.” –Gabe Habash, author of Stephen Florida