Thursday, November 1, 2012

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother's warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie--a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance--and even to some degree, friendships--believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most. (from GoodReads)

I absolutely adored Something Borrowed (also written by Emily Giffin) and the movie, so I was super excited to read something else by this author. Heart of the Matter wasn't quite as good, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

I didn't realize that Heart of the Matter was going to be about cheating again, but I find this to be an interesting topic. For many people it's a deal-breaker, but on the other hand so many people take back their significant other after they've cheated. Another dimension to this is the type of cheating. Most people consider cheating to be doing something physical with another person. But what about emotional cheating? Which is worse? We talked about this in my English class after reading Ethan Frome, which deals with emotional cheating.

Heart of the Matter switches point-of-view between Tessa and Valerie. Tessa is the wife of Nick, a pediatric surgeon, who is having an affair with Valerie. Getting both sides made it tough to pick which was "right" because I sympathized with both Tessa and Valerie. In Something Borrowed, we only get Rachel's perspective and it is colored by the fact that Darcy is not a nice person most of the book. In Something Borrowed, the cheating seemed more acceptable because no one was married or had any kids yet. It kind of made it easier to stomach.

The only person I didn't like was Nick. He had to be one of the most selfish people I've ever read about. If you want to cheat on your wife, that's one thing, but he would forgo spending time with his kids to be with Valerie. He spend more time with her and her son than his own family, which I just thought was awful. Also, Valerie's son was Nick's patient, so the affair was extremely unethical in addition to being morally wrong.

I was so excited to see Rachel and Dex return, because they're one of my favorite couples. It just so happens that Tessa and Dex are siblings. Rachel and Dex have the perfect marriage, which is commented on by every person. It's almost sickeningly sweet. It would have been better if there was something going on to show that they are not a perfect couple, but since we didn't get their POV, there was no additional information.

Overall I really did enjoy Heart of the Matter, especially that it tried to describe the different aspects and perspectives of cheating. It can be a gray area at times, and I liked seeing that addressed. Emily Giffin is a really good writer and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: bought used.

2010/St. Martin's Press/368 pages.

1 comment:

Stephanie Ingrid Sarah Kristan said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Kristan is a quasi-EG fan -- loved both SBs and LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH, though not BABY PROOF -- so she's got us curious about this one. Glad to know it was a good read!

And yes, it can be fun to examine tough ethical dilemmas through fiction. For another great author who handles that sort of thing well, you might enjoy Jodi Picoult. There's less romance, more mystery, but still great writing and characters.