Thursday, January 26, 2012
Author: Emily Giffin
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2008
Source: Borrowed from my sister-in-law
Read for: Fun
Ellen has a perfect life -- a job she is passionate about, and a handsome, caring, and rich husband who also happens to be her best friend's older brother. However, Ellen starts to doubt her life when Leo walks across her path at a crosswalk in New York City. Leo, who she loved intensely. Leo, with whom she never found closure. Now Leo seems as if he misses their relationship, and Ellen is forced to decide if she wants to try again with him or stick with her perfect but slightly predictable life.
I've come to the conclusion that Emily Giffin writes books about selfish women -- women who do things that are either socially or morally reprehensible. Women I would never emulate. And yet, I can't help but enjoy the stories. I'm not sure what the secret element is that makes me get over my disapproval of the characters' actions. Somehow Giffin manages to pull together likable (if flawed) characters and a juicily dramatic plot, and she tops it off with fantastic writing.
Ellen was more down to earth than any of the other Giffin characters, although she does fall into some of the stereotypes -- strong, almost dominating female friendship, lawyer love interest, New York. Once she starts to reconnect with Leo, she loses some of her down-to-earth outlook, starting to rationalize her behavior and to get grumpy and frustrated with her husband. At times she is overly passive, relying on others' reactions and opinions to dictate what she does, but in the end, she becomes assertive and takes matters into her own hands, finally coming to a point where she makes her own decisions and comes to her own peace. Despite her flaws, I enjoyed being in her head, going through her emotions and trying to come to a decision that was right and yet also fulfilling.
The plot was just as addictive as other Giffin novels. As a rule, I am not the type of person who reads the last page. It is a taboo, a line I never cross. Except with books by Emily Giffin. I always read the last page, because I just can't wait to see what will happen. Sometimes I'll even read what is on the next page before I finish the page I am reading because I can't stand wading through all of the words to find what is happening next. The stories are soap opera brain candy of the highest order.
Despite the fact that I sometimes can't stay in the words because I am so curious as to what happens next, Giffin's writing is stellar. She has the ability to bring her characters to life; they all have authentic voices, whether they are main narrating voices or supporting characters. Giffin has a strong grip on some of the less attractive human emotions like jealousy, and can make them come to life in a way that is powerful and evocative while not detracting from our sympathy with the character (even though the character is often undeserving of sympathy).
Love the One You're With follows Emily Giffin's pattern of a somewhat selfish modern woman dealing with a moral problem. It is entertaining and dramatic, but the frothy plots are supported by strong writing, resulting in a highly entertaining and relatable read.
Warnings: One bedroom scene, some language, some innuendo and talk of sensuality