Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lisa's Review: Love The One You're With

A chance encounter with an old flame in Giffin's bittersweet, sometimes mawkish fourth novel causes Ellen Dempsey to consider anew what could have been. Shortly after marrying Andy, Ellen runs into Leo, her intense first love. Leo, a moody writer, has secretly preoccupied Ellen ever since he broke her heart, so after seeing him again, Ellen wonders if her perfect life is truly what she wants or simply what she was expected to want. This scenario is complicated by Ellen's past: the early death of her mother and subsequent disintegration of her family have left Ellen insecure and saddled with unresolved feelings of guilt. These feelings intensify when Andy's career takes the newlyweds from Ellen's beloved New York City to suburban Atlanta. As Ellen's feelings of inadequacy and resentment grow, her marriage begins to crumble. The novel is sometimes bogged down by characters so rooted in type that they, and the story line, can only move in the most obvious trajectory. However, Giffin's self-aware narrator and focus on troubled relationships will satisfy those looking for a light women's lit fix. ~Publisher's Weekly

I went into this book, thinking "Oh I know exactly how this is going to end". Yeah, not quite. Though not entirely unpredictable, there was a time or two when I was surprised at the direction Ms. Giffin chose to take the story, particularly towards the end. How you walk away feeling in the end is a direct reflection on the things that are important to you in a relationship. I walked away thinking that Ellen may have rationalized a bit too much and I may have made a different decision.

Told solely from Ellen's point of view, we spend a lot of time inside her head as she sorts through, her thoughts and feelings. On the one hand, it's great because you walk away feeling like you know Ellen and why she makes the decisions she does. On the other hand, we don't learnquite as much about the other characters and there seems to be little depth to them and in some ways caused me to question Ellen's truth.

I've always enjoyed Giffin's ability to take a somewhat tricky situation and address it in such a way that neither makes light of the dilemma nor lessens the severity of it. She does an adequate job here, also.

Love The One You're With isn't my favorite of Emily Giffin's novel, but I found myself caught up wanting to get to the end. All in all, an enjoyable read.

Final Take: 3.5/5


Julie June 17, 2008 at 9:20 PM  

It's in my nightstand to be read but not at the top of the list, based on your review and a co-worker's thoughts. Kind of disappointing since I was very much looking forward to it.

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