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Heart of the Matter
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Heart of the Matter

3.8 1465
by Emily Giffin
 

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"Giffin excels at creating complex characters and stories that ask us to explore what we really want from our lives."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother's warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of

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The Heart of the Matter 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1466 reviews.
Jeanelle_C More than 1 year ago
Heart of the Matter is an astounding and contemporary read. This book is layered, told from two points of view from a brokenhearted single mother struggling with circumstances she did not wish for herself and a stay at home mother battling through the boredom and monotony of motherhood. Both women are on a mission for personal fulfillment in the novel as their lives become connected by a heartbreaking accident. The story is a page turner filled with emotion jerking words that are both relatable and tangible. I appreciated the detailed medical procedures, sports matches and elementary schools application process scenes that I possibly would not have understood otherwise without the author being so descriptive in her writing. The author also has an aptitude for understanding the human experience, especially the experience of living amongst the judgment, rivalry, loneliness, need to feel completed and to be continually happy that many women face today as well as men. Many love her earlier books but I will have to go out on a possibly blasphemous limb and say that Heart of the Matter is her best, should they ever be compared. The content of the book is true literary escapism and so true to life. Single, married, old, young and women from any walk of life can relate to this book. Please do not dismiss this book as a narrative lacking substance. There is so much to this story. Well done Emily Giffin, five stars well deserved!
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this wonderful book! It is a story that keeps you entertained for hours.
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
I loved heart of the matter. It has a story I couldn't put down.
Lannie More than 1 year ago
This one is the story about two women, Valerie, a single mother of a boy named Charlie, and Tessa, the wife of a renowned plastic surgeon and mother of two small children, Ruby and Frank. The chapters alternate between the perspectives of Valerie and Tessa, which gives the reader both sides of the story. This deals with infidelity and the pain and suffering in the aftermath. Holds the reader's interest throughout. I enjoyed it.
rileymccarthy More than 1 year ago
I like Emily Giffin's newest book HEART OF THE MATTER because it explores something fundamental, basic and easy to understand about human nature, that we rarely if ever see ourselves as the villain when we tell the story of our lives. For every mistake we make, we can justify it by telling ourselves the reasons we did it. For every choice that we decide that affects other people, we know what led us to them. And when every small choice we make suddenly puts us square in the middle of some disaster and we're the "bad guy" in the situation, it's not like we didn't have good intentions at the start. And it's that sort of disaster that leads HEART OF THE MATTER's two narrators, Tessa and Valerie, to find themselves at odds with one another. And because each of them gets to tell their version of events to us, there's not really a villain in this story of injured children, gossipy private school moms, broken families and, more than anything, infidelity. Tessa and Val are just two women who've made mistakes and bad choices for very good reasons. And, under different circumstances, they'd probably be really close friends. Tessa and Val's story begins with an accident. Valerie Anderson is a strong, determined, stubborn single mom to Charlie, a very sweet, sensitive little boy who's a student at a private school in Boston. She reluctantly allows Charlie to go to a friend's birthday party, even though she finds the parents involved to be rich and snotty. At the party, Charlie is seriously injured in a campfire and rushed to the hospital. Val beats herself up over these choices, not trusting her instincts, massively upset over her hurt little boy. Her twin brother Jason tries to comfort her. But no one is able to reassure her until her son's excellent, attractive pediatric plastic surgeon, Dr. Nick Russo, arrives and tells her that Charlie is a beautiful child and would continue to be. It's just what she needs to hear at a very tough time. Nick, though, had to rush to the hospital from his seventh wedding anniversary dinner with Tessa, his loving, fun wife who's struggling to redefine her identity after she's given up her job as a professor to be a stay-at-home mom to her two little kids, Ruby and Frank. Tessa's mom advised her not to quit her job because she was afraid that Tessa might lose herself or become resentful of her frequently busy, often absent genius husband. Tessa feels inferior to all of the other private school moms around her, even her friend April, a cold perfectionist, and Romy, a rich woman who's panicked because the campfire accident that burned Charlie happened at her house. So Tessa and Val are connected by community, by mutual acquaintances and now through Nick, whom they both come to care for and have issues with. Giffin's writing style and the alternating points-of-view allow us to care about both women, building suspense as we wonder just how far their lives will become entwined and just how far the love triangle that eventually becomes central to the novel will go. HEART OF THE MATTER is arguably Giffin's best book. Like her other novels, it's occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. But, in her fifth book, Giffin allows herself to explore the deeper, darker mistakes and the minutae that can harm well-meaning people trying to find themselves while coping with marriage. HEART OF THE MATTER is funny, tangled and insightful. Fans will not be disappointed. There is much to love in Giffin's newest novel.
Tall-lilly More than 1 year ago
This book was so good I read it two days. Giffin does such an awesome job of going from one character's perspective to the next. Her writing has you rooting for one character in one chapter and switching to the other character in the next chapter, and this feeling continues through out the book. She makes you feel for both protagonist simultaneously. This book makes you realize everything is not black and white and there are no moral absolutes. Even though I could tell where the plot was going in the beginning I was still on the edge of my seat about how it was all going to come to an end. I also liked the fact that she included other past characters from her other books. It allowed you to see how their lives were turning out as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had a good time reading this book. Finished it in record time because I couldnt wait to find out what happened. For anyone that has ever been in a relationship and was not sure as to if it was the "right" one, you can relate to any of the characters.
kerlzinator More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love Emily Giffin's books. Each one is written with characters that beat in each and every one of us. The Heart of the Matter on the other hand left me feeling lost and upset. Her writing style was changed and it went from chapter to chapter with different points of views. Neither of which was really explained beyond the obvious surface tension. A stay at home mother of two who feels lost in her daily duties while slowly feeling like she's losing her husband. Then a single mother who feels as if she has no one to really depend on, when her child is injured and their worlds collide in a way neither of them could have imagined. Throughout the book I was kept waiting for Giffin to reveal something about the characters that were not apparent in the lives of women everywhere. The lack of communication within the marriage was mind boggling as well as the lack of character depth. The ending also left me very lost and confused. I know she usually leaves the ending up to the imagination of the reader but there were so many loose ends that I felt needed to be filled. The husband's choices and decisions should have been explained better. I don't feel like his feelings at the end could have been his true feelings unless he realized something from their time apart. *This is a spoiler* For me, he told Valerie that he loved her and that his feelings were true, but then told his wife they were only feelings he thought were love, but really weren't. I was confused by this because even when he ended the relationship he told Valerie all he really wanted to do was be with her. It must have already sunk in that his choices were wrong, that he cost his marriage, his family, children and possibly his career on this so called "fling". So why continue to reassure the mistress of something they both knew was wrong. Also why did Valerie lie to Tessa when she asked her if he ever told her he loved her? Maybe because they knew it wasn't or because she knew it was best for him to go back to his family? I guess it's just me but I would want to be in a marriage because that person loves me and wants to be with me and not just the life we built together, that maybe if Tessa and her husband didn't have any kids he would have walked away from the marriage...
BookReviewsbyClare More than 1 year ago
Heart of the Matter is told from two points of view; Tessa, a mother who recently started staying home with her kids, and Valerie, a single working mother whose son Charlie is seriously injured in a freak accident. When Tessa's husband Nick becomes the surgeon assigned to Charlie, Valerie cannot help being captivated by the man who will save her son. From the very first chapter, Tessa's restlessness and anxiety instill a sense of dread in the reader. Tessa's also conflicted, and a little resentful, about staying at home. "I still love having sex with my husband, as much as ever once we're under way. It just so happens that I know prefer sleep to most everything else- chocolate, red wine, HBO, and sex." Tessa's life rung true for me, and will for thousands of stay-at-home moms. Tessa's life is laugh out loud funny, and so apt. When Nick suggests bringing Oreos to school as the snack for the day, I wanted to reach through the pages to smack him myself. Yet Valerie, as the other woman, won my heart. Valerie's intense love for her child, her loneliness, her fragile hope, and Charlie's brave struggle made me hug my own kids (and my husband) a little tighter. Valerie's helplessness, her anger, her relief at having competent surgeon Nick tell her that he can help, that he will help, makes their relationship not only probable, but plausible. How could you not fall in love with the person who helps heal your child? The book ends in the best and worst way possible. I was absolutely satisfied with the way things had turned out and would have been just as pleased if things had been different. While Emily Giffin does focus on adultery (a painful subject), she writes such heartfelt, often sympathetic characters in a realistic and funny way. And the book is absolutely up-to-date, with Facebook etiquette dilemmas, and mommy one-upmanship, and preschool applications. Giffin really gets it all - the boredom and competition of being a stay-at-home-mom, the anguish of being a single parent, the loneliness of being a working, adult female. Even as Nick, Tessa and Valerie make choices, heart-breaking, anguishing choices, Giffin writes so well, that each action and each character will relate to some part of you and you not only understand why they are doing it, you know that you would do it too.
A_Goodrow More than 1 year ago
I loved every page of HEART OF THE MATTER! It was unpredictable, addicting, surprising and engaging. I could not put it down and kept wondering what would happen next. Infidelity seems to be the "it" word lately and Emily managed to capture the emotions of it and the aftermath so well. In a way this book reminds me of SOMETHING BORROWED and SOMETHING BLUE. Every other chapter is devoted to one of the two main characters: Tessa and Valerie. You get so enthralled with each women's emotions that you forget the book is fiction! I am recommending HEART OF THE MATTER to everyone I know. It is quite possibly, my favorite Giffin book to date!
megkuc More than 1 year ago
I was a HUGE fan of something Borrowed and Something Blue! I was really hoping to enjoy this one as much - instead I was furious throughout most of book. My issue was not with the affair - I know that can happen but with the way he did it. Her spends more time with this child than his own. In one scene he even skips trick or treating with his own children to spend time with Val and Charlie - that is an insult to his children. The whole book he is leaving them and spends little to no time with them, but sees Charlie every day??? Screw the affair he is a bad father. Then he has the nerve to tell Valerie that he wishes he could make love to her then the next day tells his wife it was a mistake and he would take it back if he could?? Also - I know single mothers and Valerie's character does the unthinkable and lets her son get close with this man (like a father and son) even though she knows he has a family of his own and probably wont be around why would you do that to your child?? Very very disappointed
FHolmes More than 1 year ago
I must admit that I immediately pre-ordered this book when it became available. I have loved every book written by Emily, so I knew that this one would be just as wonderful as the others. Little did I know, that this book would become one of my all-time favorite books. Once again, Emily has created characters that are so vivid that you feel as though you are watching the life of your best friend unfold on the pages before you. The transition between first-person and third-person narrative was smooth and effortless. The first-person narration of Tessa made her story so personal, because her insecurities are so realistic to what so many mothers experience. Tessa has made that daring choice to leave her career to become a full-time mom, but in contrast, Valerie is a working mom because of circumstance, which causes her life to be torn between responsibility and obligation. While Nick ultimately brings the two women together, it is not without constant surprise. This book is so well written and so poignant. I highly recommend it to anyone!
TulaneMom More than 1 year ago
I had read two other books by this author, and looked forward to reading this as well. As I began to read, I was disturbed to see that it was a story about a man in a position of power (a physician), abusing that power and trust by having an affair with one of his pediatric patients Mother at a vulnerable time in her life, to say the least. I would think with all the recent headlines telling of men in powerful positions, such as coaches, politicians, clergy, physicians and teachers abusing their power , that a story of an arrogant physician who seems to be a complete jerk would be the last thing someone would want to read about. Why would anyone want to try and make a character like that seem romantic or tortured...especially a woman?? I think Emily Griffin has the talent and intelligence to do a lot better ...so disappointed .
Shan71 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed it as much as it made me angry. I felt for all the characters and couldn't wait for the end to see the final decision. If you like Emily Giffin's other books, you will like this one.
LaBrujaBuena More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Emily Giffin's books and this one was too predictable from the beginning and wasn't what I expected. I had read another book written in the same format where each chapter was a different person telling their story, but it had substance to it that kept me turning the pages and waiting for things to be unveiled. This book was a fast read, but that is all it was. There could have been much more to the story and the title of the book, I feel, does not fit the story that was told. Like others have said, it is the typical book where man cheats on wife and wife takes husband back. I agree that Tess took him back way too quickly. It's like Giffin needed to finish the story and rushed through the end. I know it leaves room for our imagination, but there are strings to tie to help reach that point and create a solid story. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but I have read better and this is my personal opinion. I just feel that this story was not the WOW that I expected, because I knew it could have been a better story.
Jenn56 More than 1 year ago
I have been a huge Emily Giffin fan since I first came across "Something Borrowed" several years ago. Her writing style, sense of humor, and the personality and life she gives to her characters has always been my favorite thing about her books. "Heart of the Matter" delivers BIG TIME in all of these categories. She has this uncanny way of making you love the character you should hate, root for who should be the bad guy, and then take you to a place where you just can't blame any of the characters for being human. She is real about life and relationships, their ups and downs, and "Heart of the Matter" does a better job of exploring the intracacies of community and long lasting relatioships than anything else I have ever come across. Anyone unresolved with the ending of the book, I challenge you to actually put yourself in each of the character's shoes and look at what those choices actually mean in terms of the future. This book is great and my friends and I are all so passionate about her writing and the characters she has given us that we have started a book club just to continue finding great writers like her.
SHASTALOVE More than 1 year ago
The story is about two women living in MA. in alternating narratives, which explores fundamental human nature. Tessa and Val's story begins with an accident. The subject matter at hand is infidelity, presented in a heartfelt and touching story, with compassion and grace. Well done!
tiki More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed Emily Griffin's previous novels and had pre-ordered Hear of the Matter. I was surprised to find that Emily had tackled a darker subject this time around. I felt she handled the relationships between her characters in a very true to life scenario. They were human and humans make mistakes. The story is told by the two women in the story. Each are flawed, trying to make their own way in the world. I enjoyed the challenge of not assuming an affair is only one person's fault. I think this would be a great discussion book for book club.
jillcohen8 More than 1 year ago
As a HUGE fan of Emily Giffin's I had high hopes for this book, and she did not dissapoint! The multiple view points made for an interesting read. She had me laughing and crying because of the realness of this book. Everyone can relate in one way or another. Something Blue had been my favorite of the last 4, but Heart of the Matter is made it's way into the top spot! Beautifully written!
pinkixniki More than 1 year ago
I'm a HUGE emily giffin fan. In fact, she's partly the reason why i became such a bookworm to date and have fallen in love with chick-lit novels. But i'm COMPLETELY on the fence with this one. Giffin seems to favor the theme of relationships and infidelity, having tackled it in two of her previous novels, and her latest novel doesn't fall from from that. However, her approach is different in this novel as she writes from the views and feelings from two different women with different stories and upbringings.... and both in love with the same man... Nick. Ahh... nick. Can i punch him please??? I don't know. i desperately want to know exactly what he was thinking. While i LOVE Giffin's writing style and ease, and her ability to paint a portrait of her characters i just could NOT wrap my head around the fact that Nick was even considering cheating on his wife. What was so terrible about his life at home and his family, that would make him NOT want to be home? For better or for worse? what was he thinking?! i kept mentally yelling at him in my mind as i read. don't doooo it. don't screw yourself over, buddy... okay?! okay yes, let me back track and refer to Giffin's first novel, something borrowed, you just GET why they were cheating. they knew each other for so long... he had loved her at one point, she had loved him at one point... and that love just never went away... and they were engaged! NOT married.... there's a big difference between that novel and this novel. I had gone to a book event for Giffin's book tour and she had proclaimed that she wanted that kind of angry reaction from her readers the kind of.. "NO! HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?" and that's exactly the reaction she got from me. UGH. this book makes me so mad... but its okay. i still love giffin. she's still one of my favorite authors. I wasn't even going to buy this novel in the first place, and was just going to wait until it came out on paperback or as a bargain book... but then when i found out she was going on tour, the opportunity to see and meet her was too big to miss. She is a FABULOUS writer, make no mistake about that, but i really am mad at her for writing about what she did! it's soooo frustrating, and while i DID favor one woman over the other... i can see where the both of them were coming from and how hard and complicated the situation can be. and all i kept thinking as i read it was "i hate this book! I hate this book!" And yet i stayed up until the wee hours finishing it... and all i could think was that there was NO way this could end on a good note... and giffin proves me wrong on so many levels and shows her mastery of word in being able to wrap things up the way things should be. it's uncanny how she's able to create these characters and they do exactly as you expect they would given their choices and actions. I'm really proud of Tessa. :) about 10 chapters in i really hated this book... but i came around. So if you're a giffin fan, i highly urge you to pick this one up and any new readers that are just discovering the greatness that is Giffin... join the club. ;)
KatiePidge More than 1 year ago
I've been a long time fan of Giffin's book since her first "Something Borrowed". "Heart of the Matter" was one of her best. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in a day. Long time readers of Giffin with be pleasantly surprised when characters return in this book and it reminds you of the relationships you created with these characters that you couldn't help but to love! When finishing HOTM and putting it on your bookshelf to join the rest of Giffin's books you are left with a feeling of, MORE! Can't wait to read more of Giffin's masterpieces!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was really kinda distrubing........i mean seriously......weirdness.......
ILgirl07 More than 1 year ago
I was so excited that I pre-ordered this book! I love Emiy's writing and interesting subject matters. While she writes "chick-lit" there is a lot of heart and real issues in her books. This one was no different, exploring the lives of two very different women in love with the same man. I think the character development was great and I loved to see Rachel and Dex from Something Borrowed make a return - a happy return too! Giffin is an immensely gifted writer whose books have not disppointed me so far!
Rain27L More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Emily Giffin's books. I love her writing style and this book does not disappoint. I read this book in a day. I could not put it down. The characters and the description of their feelings seem so real. I liked how the author gave you insight on both female characters. I was able to feel for both female characters, however, my heart went out to the character Tessa. I always learn something from Emily Giffin books. I highly recommend this book. I would also recommend reading Something Borrowed and Something Blue. The characters Rachel and Dex are included in Heart of the Matter. I liked how Giffin updated the reader on their relationship.
mommychic More than 1 year ago
I was surprised to hear some of the negative reviews. As usual, Giffin has interesting characters and a compelling story. I think that many of us who read this novel are "Tessas" and do not want to think about a story like this one. I thought the ending was appropriate and thought that it really got to the "Heart of the Matter." I loved this just as much as her other novels. I love how Giffin puts cameo appearances of other characters in her previous novels. I love knowing how some of her old characters are doing now. I suspect that we will hear more about Valerie (and maybe Lion) in novels to come.