Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Title: Something Borrowed
Author: Emily Giffin
Genre: Chick lit
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, 2005
Source: Borrowed from my sister-in-law

Darcy and Rachel have been friends forever. They share memories of first crushes, taking the SATs, birthdays, family. Rachel even introduced Darcy to her fiance, Dexter. Maybe Darcy is a little pushy and controlling. Maybe she sometimes makes Rachel feel bad about herself. They've been through everything together. However, on the evening of Rachel's 30th birthday, when a few drinks with Dexter turn into something more, Rachel will have to decide whether she values her friendship with Darcy or her budding (and forbidden) relationship with Dexter more.

I read almost all of this book in the bathroom. My sister-in-law set it out for me one night when I was babysitting my niece, and I got hooked after she went to bed. However, I had another 600 pager due back to the library that week and I couldn't get caught up in a new book. So I stuck it in the bathroom to read while I brushed my teeth. And then I would sit there and keep reading for 20 minutes at a time. I finished the book in five days, with it rarely leaving my bathroom. That is a lot of tooth-brushing.

This is meant to illustrate that the book is addicting. I wasn't sure how I would feel about it - I am certainly not someone that condones cheating, and I wondered if I could identify with a character that does it with her best friend's fiance. However, Rachel's voice is endearing and down-to-earth. She is a smart girl who has done everything right, and now she is trying to navigate her way through her mistakes and desires to break from the good-girl mold. In fact, most of the characters were enjoyable - sweet Ethan with his boy-next-door best-friend role, Hillary with her tough girl attitude, and even Darcy with her sheer awfulness (I've always enjoyed those love-to-hate characters like Scarlett O'Hara).

The only character I didn't love was Dex, which put a slight damper on the central relationship. He was okay - I didn't hate him. I could see some of his endearing qualities. However, I felt like he handled the whole situation horrendously. In a way, I can't fault the book for this, because the situation was horrendous, and he handled it how any human male would - by going back and forth, saying some insensitive things, but really truly trying, in the end, to do what is right. (I won't tell you if he is successful or not). However (highlight the next few lines if you don't mind SPOILERS), I would have liked to see Rachel leave Darcy and Dexter behind, instead of shuffling from one dependency to another. I know this kind of happened when he temporarily broke things off and she went to visit Ethan in London, and she realized that she would be okay and kissed the British guy, but it still wasn't quite satisfying to me. I'm sure she and Dex are really in love and really meant to be together, but I maybe would have gotten more of that if I'd seen more of their background as friends in law school. Okay, end of spoilers, end of rant.

I also must compliment Ms. Giffin on her writing. In general, these "chick-lit," dramatic relationship stories haven't stood out to me as sparkling examples of good craftsmanship, but the writing is impeccable in this story. The flow is very natural, and I felt Rachel's emotions as if they were my own. Giffin doesn't shy away from the complicated emotions in Rachel's mind. Yes, Darcy is a witch, but you can also see why they were best friends, why the thought of cutting off her friendship is almost as daunting as a life without Dexter. The tension was so irresistible because it was written so powerfully and clearly.

While this book had its imperfections (and really, they are hard to avoid when you are writing a novel where the protagonists are having an affair), it was addictive and difficult to put down. The book is well-written and the characters are a delight to read. I am looking forward to more of Giffin's work.

4 stars

Warnings for the sensitive reader: Sexuality (free of anatomy and play-by-plays, thankfully), some language


  1. A great friend loved this book so much she actually drove it to me. I have it here beside of my bed and have for awhile, but I haven't read it yet. I didn't actually know what the story was about until I read this. I don't typically like the cheating stories either, but maybe I should give this one a shot pretty soon.

  2. Okay, two things (not related at all to this book). First, I love Scarlett O'Hara. Yes, she has some horrid qualities, but I really identify with her. She is so real.

    Second, I read in the bathroom ALL THE TIME. Growing up I'd stash books under the sink and my dad got so tired of it he forbid me from reading in the bathroom. I stopped for years, but I still do it. Only at night when I get ready for bed, but I'll sometimes sit in there for hours with a book. Crazy, I know.

  3. SweetestLittleBookworm - The behavior in it is certainly not something I would emulate but I have a hard time getting over Emily Giffin's writing. I don't know why exactly but I just love it.

    Allison - I'm so glad you like Scarlett too. Whenever I tell people that I like Gone With the Wind they ask, "How can you, Scarlett is so horrible?" But I love those awful characters - reading about them, not knowing them! And yay for bathroom reading!


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