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In the fourth novel by Emily Giffin, we meet Ellen, who has been married to Andy for 100 days when she runs into Leo - the one who got away. We explore the back story of Ellen and Leo, who had an amazingly intense relationship that went awry and then ended abruptly at his instigation. Despite the fact that Ellen loves her husband dearly and is best friends with Margot, his sister, she finds herself keeping it secret that she has met up with Leo. When he gets in contact to offer her a brilliant photography assignment, Ellen finds herself tempted by more than just the offer of work. From there we see through Ellen's eyes as she wavers between the perfect life and wonderful husband on one hand, and wondering 'what if?' about her past relationship with Leo.
I have read all of Giffin's novels and by now I know what to expect. The stories come from a first person perspective and concern women in a relationship dilemma. It is much like sitting down over coffee with a best friend and hearing about her woes - the writing is comfortable and the novels offer a gentle perspective on the various problems that can inflict partnerships. The characters are usually somewhat cliched, and some suffer from being one dimensional as well, but Giffin has a warm voice and invites you to feel sympathy for the situation of the main characters. Here as well, it was hard to conceive that Ellen would end up with anyone but the man she eventually chooses - this would be too subversive for a Giffin book.
Here I could identify easily with Ellen - anyone who has had a past relationship end with little explanation and still feels rogue feelings for that person will understand how she got caught up in contacting Leo again when he came back into her life. Giffin explores the ideas of the grass being greener - how those who fall into a rut can see another person or relationship as being preferable, rather than dealing with the problems that exist. I enjoyed Giffin's commentary on how the money her husband earns can be more of a hindrance to Ellen's life than a blessing.
I loved Ellen's enthusiasm for photography and the way that this both led the plot and provided poetic passages that lifted Giffin's writing above that of other 'chick lit' authors. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the shots that she took at Coney Island, and could actually imagine them from the descriptions.
So, this novel was much as I expected and a diverting read on a rainy afternoon, but certainly nothing that would challenge the intellect. Enjoyable and fluffy.
This is a story for everyone who has ever wondered: How can I truly love the one I'm with, when I can't forget the one who got away?
Ellen and Andy's first year of marriage doesn't just seem perfect, it is perfect. There is no question how deep their devotion is, and how naturally they bring out the best in each other.
But one fateful afternoon, Ellen runs into Leo for the first time in eight years. Leo, the one who brought out the worst in her. Leo, the one who left her heartbroken with no explanation. Leo, the one she could never quite forget.
When his reappearance ignites long-dormant emotions, Ellen begins to question whether the life she's living is the one she's meant to live.
I love Emily Giffin's writing and rank Something Borrowed as one of my favourite chick-lit books ever. I also enjoyed Something Blue and Baby Proof and was excited when I finally saw Love the One You're With at the second-hand bookswop I go to.
I quite liked the idea of the story: Ellen is married but after 100 days of marriage she bumps into her ex-boyfriend Leo. It seems she isn't over him so the question is: who does she want to be with?
I just think the whole thing could have been explored a bit more. I still don't think we really found out why Leo and Ellen broke up. It seemed, I don't know, like a loose end that wasn't tied up properly.
I also thought Ellen was a bit mean flitting between both men and trying to turn things around to make Andy look bad and justify all her actions to herself. I mean to be that obsessed with an ex after, what was it, 8 years and willing to dump and betray her husband at the first sign of trouble was a bit spiteful. Even at the end of the novel she still wasn't 100% truthful with her husband even though Andy was a brilliant and nice character.
I loved all the minor characters: Margot, Suzanne and the Graham family kept the story bubbling along. I think it was a shame the relationship between Ellen and her father wasn't explored as it seemed there were troubles there. It was also a shame the apparent OCD wasn't explored more, we read of it at the beginning of the novel and once when she was in Atlanta.
I thought Ellen was never really sure of how to approach things. She said yes to Atlanta, got totally fed up with it and then didn't say a thing until the huge argument with Andy.
Even at the end of the book she didn't seem totally sure with who she chose. It was as if she chose who she chose because of what her sister said even though she said she was following her heart. I was glad with the ending though and would have been disappointed had it ended the other way.
I can't really think of anything else to say about it. It wasn't a book that provoked a lot of different questions, it was mainly who will Ellen choose and that was it. Full stop. End of.
I did, however love that Julian and Hillary (from Something Borrowed) made an appearance. I love how Emily does that, mentions the characters from her other novels or has them appear in some way.
For all that I've said for the book I did read it quite quickly - it just seemed to lack something that Something Borrowed & Blue had. I loved the cover though, it is a beautiful book cover.
Emily's next novel, however sounds as if it's going to be a return to form, as I read the first chapter on Emily's publishers website.