By Emily Giffin
Mini-Summary: Rachel, a 30 year old lawyer living in Manhattan, breaks the cardinal rule of friendship and sleeps with her best friend Darcy’s fiancé, Dex. Darcy, Rachel’s complete opposite, continues planning her wedding, unbeknownst to her that Rachel and Dex are continuing to see each other behind Darcy’s back. Lines of right and wrong are blurred, and the characters become tangled in a web of deceit.
Some themes at play within the novel: friendship, betrayal, relationships, sex, loneliness, manipulation, infidelity, jealousy
Some Thoughts (Spoiler-ish, fair warning):
A good friend of mine really hyped this book up to me. It is one of her all-time favorites, and I generally trust her judgment, as she is a big literary lover not unlike myself. That being said, to my chagrin, I do not like this book. I don't absolutely hate it, but there is very little about it that I enjoyed.
I have a problem with every. Single. Character. They all seem to be at one personality extreme or the other. Rachel is the passive-aggressive, indirect, cowardly “best friend” with low self-esteem that she solely blames on her domineering childhood buddy, Darcy. She actually points the finger at Darcy for all of her insecurities, fears, and other character flaws (and there are more flaws than redeeming qualities… come to think of it, she had NONE). And yet, not once in the entire book does she actually bring any of these angry and resentful feelings to Darcy’s attention. Not once. She makes ONE comment to Darcy that “the world doesn’t revolve around you” and that's about it. She fakes her way through every conversation and interaction with Darcy-- and not just the Dex conversations-- all of them, right down to breakfast cereal. Rachel is so incredibly pathetic to me; I simply can not relate to her plight in the slightest! And that’s a huge problem being as she is the “heroine” of the story, as if she even deserves the title.
The only thing the Rachel and Darcy have in common is their selfishness. Darcy is the opposite of Rachel in almost all ways. She is brazen, attention-hungry, and controlling. Darcy is mean-spirited and makes catty comments right and left. Growing up, she steals boys and life goals away from Rachel like it’s her job. She dances on bars and wears skimpy bikinis and flirts with any man with a pulse. And mousey little Rachel, the one who allows Darcy to treat her horribly, is jealous of Darcy’s life and all the attention she gets. So, she punishes Darcy for it in the worst roundabout way she can think of: she sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé. And the immediate reason she does it is not because she is in love with Dex like she claims later on in the book, it is because she is sociopathically punishing her friend. The morning after she sleeps with him, she doesn’t love Dex, she simply feels no remorse for her transgressions against Darcy.
I don’t mean to sound too judgmental about affairs and toxic friendships, as I know that there are immense emotional intricacies that are involved, but this shallow book does not deeply explore all sides of the story [I know that Darcy’s side is explored in Something Blue, but it’s just too late in the game for me to care]. We only hear Rachel whining the whole time about whether or not Dex will call. She clings to him and the idea of him-- and we never know why he is so great anyway. We are regaled with one measly story about how he gave a good argument in a law class once. The rest of Dex’s description is all about how handsome he is. Hmm, very interesting… wait no actually that’s not interesting at all.
Despite the fact that all of the characters are one-dimensional and the plot only skims the surface of why people cheat and betray each other, I still trudged on with the book because it moves fairly quickly… up until the middle where the plot gets completely stagnant. There is so much fluff in the middle with Rachel’s tedious and pathetic introspection that at least 100 pages could have been cut out.
The only reason I bothered to finish the book was that I hoped Rachel and Darcy would finally face-off, where Rachel finally finds her backbone and reveals to Darcy her true feelings about her. But no, I was robbed of that as well. She never reveals to Darcy why she stole Darcy’s fiancé away. She never exposes the years of pent up bitterness. She never holds the mirror up to Darcy to show her the err of her ways. None of the characters change. There is no redemption, no growth, no final showdown. The only reason I do not truly hate this book is because I can still see why others might like it: there is a will-they-won’t-they vibe going on throughout the book. Personally, I find it tiresome, but I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t. Suffice it to say, I won’t be reading the next book, or any more of Emily Giffin’s books for that matter.
“I feel as if they are putting on a show. Well, Darcy is always putting on a show. But Dex is a willing participant. Surely he knows we are all watching. That I am watching. It is always that way when you are in a group and someone decides to go for a swim or walk to the water. The ocean is like a giant stage. It is natural that the others watch, if only for a moment” (122).
My Rating: 2/5 Stars
Information about my copy for my own records:
Publication: Paperback, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction