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story behind the book | kate tuttle

‘Love at First Like’ a tale of social media engagement – of a sort

(david wilson for the boston globe)

When Hannah Orenstein sold her first book, she decided to treat herself to a nice necklace. Soon after beginning her research, she said, “I stumbled down this rabbit hole of these incredibly influential jewelry designers on Instagram; they had hundreds of thousands of followers. I was fascinated.”

That fascination led to the setting for her second novel, “Love at First Like,” in which a young Brooklyn jeweler named Eliza who finds herself in a romantic dry spell. “I thought about what would happen if it were your job to sell engagement rings to people who are really in love and you are single and you are not that happy with your love life,” Orenstein said. When Eliza accidentally launches a social media deception, she decides to follow where it leads.

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Eliza isn’t necessarily an admirable heroine, but that’s OK with Orenstein. “I didn’t necessarily care if she was likable or not. To me what was most important was that she was entertaining,” she said. “Maybe you wouldn’t make all of the same decisions yourself, but she’s exciting to follow.”

In her day job as dating editor at Elite Daily, Orenstein has researched romance in the age of social media. Love itself hasn’t changed, she said, but the lines between public and private life have. In addition, she said, “The face of marriage is changing,” she said, adding that people are marrying later, and that an uncertain economy plays a role in how young people take part in both dating and marriage. “Purchasing an expensive engagement ring is not in the cards for them,” she said, but that doesn’t mean they don’t spy on them on Instagram. After all, she added, “just because you meet on Tinder doesn’t mean that love isn’t real.”

Orenstein will read at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Porter Square Books. 

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Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.