Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin – Book Review

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan

When Nick has to leave in the middle of their anniversary dinner, Tessa doesn’t really mind. That is, after all, the price of being married to a pediatric surgeon: when other families have emergencies, their family often loses his attention. This time, though, his attention isn’t just lost for an evening. Things have been a little difficult at home where Tessa feels less than fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom and they have two small children, and Nick finds himself drawn to Valerie, the single mother of his newest patient, Charlie.

This is my first experience with Emily Giffin. In the past, I have passed over her books due to the pastel covers. They looked like just the sort of chick lit that I don’t enjoy. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I actually opened “Heart of the Matter.” I really liked her style, characterizations, and writing in general. I thought that having both Tessa and Valerie narrate the book was a good decision for this story, as was telling Tessa’s story in the first person and Valerie’s in the third, which made it easy to immediately tell who was speaking since both narrators were women in similar places in their lives.

Although I was impressed by Giffin’s writing, I’m still somewhat conflicted about “Heart of the Matter” overall. The premise seems to be that Tessa was at least equally responsible with Nick and Valerie for her husband’s cheating, which is a somewhat reprehensible idea to me. Tessa’s earlier broken engagement for Nick and the fact that her brother cheated on his once-fiancee with the woman who is now his wife, along with her father’s cheating on her mother when she were younger also adds to this interpretation. Valerie knew she was doing wrong the entire time, but never actually bothered to put the brakes on what was going on with her and another woman’s husband. Of course, Nick is the one who actually had a responsibility to Tessa and his family to remain faithful. I really wish that he had been one of our narrators as well, so we could have gotten a better idea of what he was thinking.

If the cheating doesn’t bother you, then I recommend “Heart of the Matter,” but if it is a hot button topic with you, I don’t think you’ll like how Giffin approaches it, so stay away.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.

This review was done with a book received from the publisher for my participation in the SheKnows Book Club.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2010

17 comments to Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin – Book Review

  • I had a hard time with this book too, but did find it quite honest in regards to how both parties respond to cheating. I didn’t feel that Tessa was responsible at all. I had little sympathy for her husband, he used and manipulated the other lady and never gave his family and wife a second thought.

  • I loved Emily Giffin’s previous books, but I did not like this one at all. Tessa was the wronged party, but she annoyed me and I had trouble feeling sympathy for her. Something Borrowed, which is about Tessa’s brother and his ex-fiance, was a much better book in my opinion.

  • Ohhhh I don’t like cheating, especially when there are issues of “blame”. I think a lot of Giffin books are like this. I wasn’t a huge fan of the pink and blue books (I think one had a girls best friend hooking up with her fiancee – wrong), but I did enjoy LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH. This dabbled in the concept of cheating without going too far. I actually thought it more insightful than polarizing. Thanks for the review!

  • I downloaded the audiobook from the library, but abandoned it fairly quickly, since I didn’t like where it felt like it was going. Your review confirms that this was the right decision for me, thank you!

  • I’m certainly not a fan of cheating but I can read about it in books. I haven’t read any of Giffin’s work, but not because of the covers – they appeal to me for some reason.

  • I’m really interested in reading this and seeing first hand how Griffin approaches what is for me a pretty touchy subject. I was cheated on twice and it is something that I never really understand.

  • I have loved her other books, but this one left me totally cold. Yuck.

  • I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that Giffin made the affair Tessa’s fault. I also felt that Valerie did nothing to stop what she was doing, even though she knew it was so wrong. When she had to tell her son that Nick wasn’t coming back, that was the line in the sand for me. She’ll do anything to keep her son safe but seems to have forgotten that part when she refused to end her relationship with Nick. Yes, Nick is to blame too, but I suspect that if Valerie had put her foot down, he would have left her alone. As for Tessa, her so-called friends made me want to cringe. They are the very women I try to avoid at all costs!!

    • Well, I think Nick was more at fault than Valerie. What both of them are doing is wrong, but what Nick is doing is made worse by the fact that he has taken vows. Yes, Valerie should have put her foot down, but she shouldn’t have needed to, particularly because Nick pursued her more than the other way around.

  • I’ve never picked up a book of hers before because of the covers too! I started listening to this on audio but I just couldn’t get into it. I might return to it later.

  • Sounds like I’m in the minority. I loved Heart of the Matter. Not only as a married man, but Nick should not have pursued Valerie bcuz he was also the doctor to her son – his patient! Like you I wanted a chapter or two that Nick narrated. I hope Giffin brings back these characters in a future novel. I’m curious to know where they are now.

    On a separate note, I’m starting to notice more and more that infidelity is a common theme in books. Since reading Heart of the Matter in May, I’ve read three or four books that involved an extramarital affair. Quite honestly I had to put down one book bcuz I just couldn’t read another book dealing with an affair even though I enjoyed reading it. I think I’ll pick it up again at a later date.

    • I totally agree. The fact that Nick was her son’s doctor would have made the whole situation wrong even if he hadn’t been married, so it really just made it much, much worse.

  • I really enjoyed both Something Borrowed and Something Blue but loathed Love the One You’re With.

  • See, I did enjoy Love the One You’re With. Giffin does a pretty good job of showing all sides of the story, and as we all probably know through ourselves or friends, there is always two sides to cheating. I appreciate the fact though, that you issued words of caution in your review. This is one topic that can really get people going (probably good for a book club, huh?)

  • I have had hit and miss experiences with Emily Giffin. I really didn’t like Something Borrowed, but really enjoyed Something Blue, which is very strange given that there are crossover characters.

    I haven’t decided whether I am going to go out of my way to read this one or not.

  • I think I would have difficulty with the reactions to the cheating.

  • I just got this one in the mail from Paperbackswap. I have all of Giffin’s books in Mt. TBR as I have heard good things about them, but I have yet to read one! It will be interesting to see how I like this one, because cheating is a touchy subject, although I don’t necessarily mind reading about it in books. Thanks for the review!