Review: Heart of the Matter

There are several things you shouldn’t do when driving halfway across the country with the person you are days from marrying. I will not list all the possible blunders here, but note that listening to this audiobook is one of them. Even if you think they are sleeping. Luckily for me, my now-husband was understanding about my stupidity, and hearing stories about other people’s broken marriages isn’t likely to affect ours in any way.

So what is the book in question? It’s called Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. You may have read some of Giffin’s work before if you are in to Chick-Lit. Something Borrowed is what she is known for (recently made into a movie), and the main characters in that book are minor ones in this one (very minor). I have not read any of her previous work, so this won’t be any sort of comparison. I used to read Chick-Lit in high school, mostly for the quick, cheap entertainment it provided. I am still a sucker for an adorable romantic-comedy, although I pretend I’m not. However, I rarely read it any more.

So why on earth did I pick this one up? Well, the library had quite the selection of audiobooks, but for my trips to and from work, I prefer something a little mindless. I probably shouldn’t be concentrating so hard on the book and not paying attention my aggravating commute. That wouldn’t be good for anyone, including the woman I saw driving down the highway last week applying mascara at 70 mph.

The story is told by alternating narrators. Tessa was a professor, who gave up teaching to stay at home with her two young children. She is married to a plastic surgeon, Nick, who specializes in helping children. Valerie is a successful lawyer and single mother. Their worlds collide when Valerie’s son, Charlie, is burned in a tragic accident, and Nick becomes his doctor.

I’m pretty sure you can guess where this leads. There isn’t much to it.

It’s an interesting idea. Tell a story about a cheating man from the point of view of the women involved. Will you feel sympathy for the poor wife and hate the trashy lover? Or will you understand why someone could stray from a sulking nagger to be with a successful woman? Unfortunately, I came out of this experience disliking every character.

Tessa spends most of her time complaining about the other stay at home mothers, all while trying to fit in with them, and lamenting her lost career. While Nick is a renowned surgeon, he is also a jackass. We are recounted several stories from the past, all remarking on his romantic gestures, but he is now a workaholic who seems to find any excuse to be at the office. Valerie is boring. Despite all of their shortcomings, there is truly no explanation as to why the events occur. Maybe that is how people are in real life. I could certainly see these people out there and possibly even this situation occurring. Unfortunately, it is told in such a cookie-cutter way, that I am not drawn to the characters themselves. For this type of book, that is essential.

Each chapter is told from alternating points of view. Tessa is speaking in first person, while Valerie’s story is being told in third. I do not understand the reasoning behind this, and it got slightly annoying. Then there is the reader of the audiobook, Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City). Her voice did not change between the two women, and it only slightly differed for a male character. She made an already bland story more so, if that is possible.

In the end, I have to give this book a 3 out of 10. It can offer some mild entertainment, but don’t expect anything fantastic. It is a stereotypical offering of chick-lit, with boring, trite characters and a bland plot with no sense behind it. There are much better novels in this genre out there. If you feel you still want to read it, don’t waste your money; go to the library, but stay away from the audio version.


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