Book: Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed
Emily Giffin
2004 (St. Martin’s)

Rachel accidentally falls in love with her best friend’s fiance only a few months before the wedding, which would be bad enough if he hadn’t fallen in love with her right back. Rachel worries that she’s risking the loss of a great friendship if she pursues the romance, but fears that she might loose the love of her life if she lets it go. So she ignores it and waits for Dex to do something (it’s his wedding, after all, she reasons). Everyone offers advice, but it has to come down to Rachel and Dex, and Darcy (the bride), deciding for themselves.

This book had promise. The premise could have gone really interesting places and the writing was actually pretty good. That can all fall apart if the main character can’t carry it, though, and Rachel was pretty weak. She was set up early on as a smart, modern woman who tended to always do the right thing to move forward and make the people around her happy (although not always herself). Her voice and actions in the book, however, did not live up to this description. She showed herself to be not very bright about even obvious things she spent too much time thinking about (like Darcy’s lie about getting into Notre Dame) and frequently relied on everyone around her to move her life forward. Characters who are that passive aren’t that much fun to read about and her unwillingness to take any sort of action frequently made the story drag.

Moral questions are at the core of this book. Is it ok to fall in love with your friend’s fiance? Is there a point of no return in an engagement? Is it ok to keep sleeping with your fiance even if you’re in love with someone else? One character states that there aren’t moral absolutes, that the reality is more complicated than that, and the issues are frequently grappled with by the cast of characters. This is one of the biggest sources of tension in the book, so it’s very frustrating that they are swept under the rug at the end in favor of an ending where none of them need to be dealt with any more. I know that romance novels like happy endings, but this was ridiculous. If you’re going to set up a situation as realistic and make the moral issues so central, it’s kind of unfair to just sweep it all up into a nice ending where none of the messy moral issues actually need to be dealt with. It makes them sort of rhetorical questions and reduces the interest and seriousness of your story’s premise.

I found this book very disappointing. It’s not the type of thing I normally read, but once I started it I honestly hoped that it would live up to the very interesting beginning. The characters just drove me crazy and the plot dragged because of it. The ending was unbelievably disappointing and ruined the whole experience for me. I’d rather pick up something by Meg Cabot the next time I’m in the mood for something romantic in the chick-lit vein – she has more well-drawn characters and usually very satisfying endings! This book was slow and disappointing and I don’t recommend it.

- Publisher’s Description

- Emily Giffin’s Website

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