Sarah's Reviews > Love the One You're With

Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin
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's review
Jan 07, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: junk-food, owned
Read in June, 2008

The thing I like about Emily Giffin is that she doesn't talk down to her readers. Nor does she assume that everyone who wants to read a light, fun, chick book gives two hoots about what brand of clothing the heroine wears. Her books aren't cerebral by any means, but they're smart.

This is a story about a happily married woman who runs into the One That Got Away. The encounter brings up a host of memories and feelings and is the catalyst to a series of events that will leave her wondering if the life she's chosen is the life she was meant to have.

I thought the character of Ellen was written very well. So well, in fact, that it makes me wonder if the author has been in this situation or if a close friend of hers has. I particularly thought the fact that Ellen had lost her mother at an early age was handled very well. This aspect of Ellen's life influenced many of her decisions and gave some insight into her psyche. In almost every chapter Ellen (who is also the narrator) mentioned how much she missed her mother, and while some readers might think it was too much, it felt real to me. I've had close friends lose a parent and I know that it is something they think about every single day.

I also thought Giffin perfectly captured the nuances of a new marriage - both its simple joys and its bumps in the road. It occurred to me that unmarried readers might not fully appreciate Ellen's feelings or motivations as marriage is something you can really only understand if you've experienced it.

While the character of Ellen was superbly developed, I thought all of the supporting cast - including the husband, the ex-boyfriend, the sister, and the best friend - were lacking. Although the book is written in the first person from Ellen's perspective, I thought more could be done to make these other characters come to life. This is particularly true of the character of Margot, Ellen's best friend and sister-in-law. I just didn't care about her.

Finally, reading this book made me ache to return to New York! It wasn't about the glamour and superficiality of New York like so many "chick lit" books I've read, but I thought it really captured the essence of what NY truly is: the burroughs, the culture, the pace. The feeling of being at the center of the world.
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Reading Progress

03/12/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

So, do you recommend? I've been contemplating whether or not I want to read this...

Sarah Yes, I recommend it.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm going for it. Thank you.

message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen Nice review, Sarah. I've seen that book on some of these pages and dismissed it because I hate the title, it's a philosophy that I don't agree with. But after reading your review I have a different feeling about the book. I'm not into chick lit, although I will confess to reading some, so I really appreciate that you say the author writes "smart" and isn't into the clothes and shoes, etc. I just may give this one a try because of your review.

Sarah I hope you like it, Karen. Giffin is one of the best authors in the genre IMO. She's a former attorney, not a fashion magazine editor.

As for the title, it's a little bit misleading. As you know, the whole adage is "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with" which implies that you don't really love the one you're with. Ellen does. She truly loves and is in love with her husband. That's what makes her struggle so real.

I think we've all had situations, not necessarily romantic, but situations where we've wondered what our lives would have been if we'd taken a left at that fork in life's road instead of a right. This character doesn't just muse about it. I thought Giffin wrote Ellen's conflict ver well.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

This books makes me think of Lionel Shriver's *The Post-Birthday World*. She actually wrote the book as if the woman stayed with her boyfriend AND as if she left him for the other guy. It alternates by chapter. An excellent illustration of the what if's and the pathes we may choose. I should dig up my review of it...

Sarah Oh, like Sliding Doors! This book isn't like that, but that sounds really interesting!

message 8: by Karen (new)

Karen That's so funny that you mentioned Sliding Doors, I was going to ask if you've seen that movie. It was pretty much a sleeper but the people who did see it all liked it. And yes, you're right, we all at times wonder what it would be like "if only....". Trust me, I've had quite a few! You've sold me on the book, it's getting added to the growing list. I think The Post-Birthday World is also going on the list.

message 9: by Sarah (last edited Aug 15, 2008 09:19AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah Hey, Shell, another book that follows the character down two different paths is Me vs. Me by Sarah Mlynowski. It's total fluffy trash, but a similar concept.

Michele I just started reading this book. It's the third novel by Giffen that I've purchased. The first one was "Something Borrowed", which I bought at the airport right before my plane took off. I thought it would be a good 'fluff' read and ended up absolutely loving it. It's a little creepy, but I find that I can relate one hundred percent to the protagonist in each novel. I've found myself in somewhat similar situations (not entirely, but there are little similarities) as I'm reading a Giffin book. This one is no exception.

Barbie Shanahan agreed: i live in atlanta and don't need her to tell her readers about the hoity toity buckhead bettys

Jenniferbradey Good review. You are so right. She does chic lit really well. There is a book similar to this called The Opportunist. The difference is, the author doesn't do such happy endings and her protags are majorly flawed. Anyway, you should check it out. It is definitely darker than Love the One You're With, but I really like her style.

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