Heart of the Matter: A Review

Hi friends!

It feels like an eternity since I last posted a review for the 2011 Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge...perhaps it's because I posted my March review very early and now I'm posting this one just four days shy of the end of April? But that's neither here nor there...

I've been reading tons of women's fiction lately (including Kristin Hannah's Night Road, which made me cry for more than an hour straight last night...my husband kept looking over at me to see if I was okay), but Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter was the perfect choice for this month's Chick Lit review. Of course, anything written by a woman that Vanity Fair once called "Atlanta's modern-day Jane Austen" is enough to make me drop everything and run to the bookstore (or turn on my Kindle!), so it wasn't exactly a difficult choice. Plus, I've read all Emily's (yes, we're on a first-name basis) other books, and I couldn't wait to read this one.

But I soon found out that even my most tried-and-true favorites can be a little unsettling...

Heart of the Matter: My 100 Word Summary

Tessa and Valerie are two mothers, from two very different worlds, whose lives converge in a single evening...except they don't quite know it yet. Tessa has two children with her husband, Nick, a handsome surgeon who adores his family, yet is more attentive to his pager and his patients. Valerie is a single woman whose young son, Charlie, gets severely burned at a friend's birthday party. As a result of his injuries, Nick is assigned to operate on the little boy, and he soon falls in love with both Charlie and his mother.

Heart of the Matter: What I Think

Emily Giffin is the perfect storyteller. She writes with such compassion and truth that I find myself nodding as I read her words, realizing that she has put onto paper things I've only spoken in my mind.

But I struggled through Heart of the Matter for two reasons:

The first is because I've seen what adultery does to families, and Giffin's portrayal of Nick's affair with Valerie really hit close to home. Obviously, this is what writers are supposed to do; it's why we love their work. But the second reason I struggled is because I could see the selfish reasons behind Valerie's love for Nick, and his distance from Tessa, and I had to work extremely hard not to hate both of them...for a time.

But on the other hand- and I've said this before- strong emotions are evidence of strong writing and strong stories. By the end of the novel my heart broke for Tessa, who was simply trying too hard to be everything for everyone (something I share with her, unfortunately), as well as for Valerie, who only wanted to know love and have a father for her abandoned son. Nick was caught in the middle, but I never really sympathized with him because it seemed as though he left all the emotional baggage for Tessa to carry. This explained her need to become a people-pleaser, and I wanted Nick to fight for her the way he did for his patients, for Charlie.

But none of this is really very important. Why? Because no one can ever dispute Emily Giffin's talent or her ability to see right into...well...the heart of the matter. Besides being a beautiful tale of love in its many forms, this novel helped me look past the ugliness of our sometimes terrible decisions and see that there is always more than one side to a story.

The Vanity Fair photo shoot spotlighting some of
my favorite Southern authors, including
Emily Giffin, Joshilyn Jackson,
Kathryn Stockett, and Susan Rebecca White

And I also have to add a few more reasons why I love Emily Giffin (indulge me...you know you love her, too!):
1. She lives in Atlanta. So do I. I'm a little partial...and I would love to be out running errands one day and run into her at the Whole Foods market (although I have no idea if she shops at Whole Foods, but it's a pretty popular place!).
2. According to this post, she's friends with Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help (drop what you're doing and go read it...NOW!) and Susan Rebecca White, author of A Soft Place to Land (which is, coincidentally, on my list and also largely based out of Atlanta).
3. She's gorgeous and has great style. I love the fact that she's a fabulous writer AND she can rock an Herve Leger bandage dress like no one else. What's more to love?

Until next time,


1 comment

Samantha said...

Love the review! This wasn't my favorite from Giffin- I really don't like reading about affairs either, but I still felt a lot of emotions while reading. And I loved catching up on Rachel and Dax!