Nikki's Reviews > Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
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's review
Jun 29, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011, chick-lit
Read from June 29 to July 01, 2011

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When I saw the trailer for the movie adaption of Something Borrowed, I thought it looked like something I’d enjoy. But, being aware that films almost never live up to the book that inspired them, I opted to read the novel first.

Something Borrowed is the story of two best friends, Rachel and Darcy. Rachel is sensible, clever, and average-looking. Darcy is beautiful, confident, and gets whatever she wants. Rachel is single, while Darcy is engaged to the gorgeous Dex. Rachel has a stressful job in a law firm; Darcy landed herself a glamorous PR career without really trying. In fact, Darcy is irritatingly lucky in almost every way. Until Rachel gets drunk and falls into bed with her fiancé, beginning an affair that threatens to ruin her best friend’s otherwise perfect life.

I’m not sure whether it was Emily Giffin’s intention, but I really battled with my moral judgement while reading this book. Darcy is not portrayed as a nice person by any stretch of the imagination. She’s self-centered, demanding, and has been unkind to Rachel on many occasions throughout their long friendship. But does that make it OK to steal the man she intends to marry? Is it OK to cheat on someone as long as they’re not very nice? For much of the book I couldn’t decide whose side I was on – although I may be in the minority with that feeling.

There were times when I felt that Giffin has attempted to make our loyalties too clear-cut. It seemed like we’re supposed to love Rachel and hate Darcy, therefore hoping Dex picks the ‘right’ person. Rachel isn’t as pretty, or as thin, or as outgoing – but she can still get the guy. Is this supposed to give hope to the average woman? Are we supposed to enjoy Darcy’s misfortune? Because even with all of her flaws, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. Rachel may have spent her entire life in the shadow of her best friend, but I still would have expected more guilt after nearly 30 years of friendship.

The main strength in Something Borrowed is the realism of the characters. Everyone has known women like Darcy and Rachel, and everyone has seen a typical ‘good girl’ suddenly do something bad. There were only a few minor aspects I found hard to believe: mainly, Darcy and Dex’s relationship. It’s not clear why he actually loved Darcy, and little was made of their strengths as a couple, so I couldn’t understand his difficulty in choosing between the two friends.

I really did enjoy Something Borrowed. I flew through it at high speed, and I enjoyed the way it had a more mature tone than most chick lit novels – mainly down to Rachel’s first person narrative, as the intelligence of her character shines through. It’s the sort of book that inspires debate, as it brings up a lot of questions about whether you can ever justify infidelity. In some ways I found it depressing, as it appears that everybody will screw over someone they’re supposed to care about as long as they get what they want. But Something Borrowed is an addictive read. I’m interested to see how the movie compares, and I’ve already started reading the sequel.

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