Heart of the Matter

( 1448 )

Overview

"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 domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a ...

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Heart of the Matter

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Overview

"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 domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

 

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father.  After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

 

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children.  But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined. 

 

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. In Heart of the Matter, each is tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questions everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovers what truly matters most.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Nick Russo is a pediatric plastic surgeon whose work often takes him away from his home and his own two children, but he becomes so absorbed in a new case that threatens to destroy his marriage. The doctor's devotion to six-year-old burn victim Charlie Anderson develops into an extramarital affair with his single mom, Valerie, an attorney. Meanwhile, Russo's stay-at-home wife, Tessa, is leading what appears to be a charmed suburban life. And then, an accident jolts these two women together in an unforeseeable way. An enthralling character study by the author of The One & Only, Love the One You're With and Something Blue. Now in mass-market paperback and NOOK Book. (P.S.: Heart of the Matter is rendered believably through the alternating voices of the two main female characters.)

From the Publisher
"[A] modern-day Jane Austen." —Vanity Fair

 

"In HEART OF THE MATTER, [Giffin] again uses her great wit and gift of storytelling to weave a tale that’s nuanced, empathetic and, at times, heartbreaking. Matters of the heart are always complicated, and Giffin deftly shows you why." —Associated Press

"Giffin’s latest opens with one of the more haunting scenes in recent memory [and] towards the end things are so tense that the pages pop with each turn." —People

"With [an] adulterous path outlined, Giffin could easily take sides. But she doesn't. Instead, she alternates between Tessa's and Valerie's points of view, dissecting the feelings and insecurities that can dismantle even the most intelligent people… Amid all the angst, Giffin displays her trademark ability to capture the complexities of human emotions while telling a rip-roaring tale." —Washington Post

"Giffin’s calling card has always been her ability to delve into the workings of relationships. But in her latest book the best-selling novelist probes deeper than ever… With intelligence, humor and piercing insight, Giffin shows that in matters of love, it is possible to be right and yet so wrong." —Family Circle

"With realistic dialogue and a sharp depiction of relationships, Giffin crafts an emotional, effortless read." —More

"Giffin beautifully shows how quickly need becomes love…[and her] chronicle of fluid, almost casual marital disconnect is a powerful cautionary tale." —Boston Globe

"In HEART OF THE MATTER, Giffin delivers her best book yet. Once again she plays with the idea of point of view, but this time she wraps it into a single, tightly written narrative that creates an addictive page-turning sense of tension. [W]hat makes this novel special are the emotional depths to which Giffin takes her readers [and] the question of what the aftermath can possibly look like for these two likable characters is what keeps readers glued to Giffin's engaging tale." —Dallas Morning News

"There are no easy answers here, in a novel that is consistently engrossing right to the surprising finish." —Seattle Times

"Giffin’s latest novel delves deep into the all-too-tricky matters of the heart…this juicy read will make you feel like you’re sneaking a peek into your best friend’s diary." —Redbook

"Giffin's books are fast-moving, emotionally absorbing stories about female friendships, marriage and childbirth." —Chicago Tribune

"Even as you steel yourself for [the book’s pivotal moment], it's hard to read when it happens, which is what sets this book a step above so many others...[Giffin] creates characters in Tessa, Valerie and Nick who are believable and mostly well-intentioned even as they make obviously bad choices." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"As HEART OF THE MATTER takes its time documenting the inexorable slide toward an affair, the slow-moving sequence of events rings true." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Emily Giffin’s newest novel is a little painful to read. OK, a lot painful to read. As a reader, you find yourself in the oddly painful position of rooting for two women who can't both get what they want. Your heart breaks for both of them [but] you'll know that feeling this kind of emotional torture with and about characters is a good thing. It's simply cathartic." —Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

"Unfolding from Tessa and Valerie’s alternating viewpoints, [HEART OF THE MATTER] will draw you in with beautifully complex characters who come across as nuanced and as flawed as people in real life. Giffin avoids victimizing Tessa while allowing empathy for Valerie, underscoring that all of us are capable of making mistakes that hurt those we love most." —VIV magazine

"[A] brutally honest book in that it never falters in its depiction of hope and heartache. Emily Giffin is a talented writer who re-gifts her talent in the books she creates…With HEART OF THE MATTER she turns up the heat and gives us her best novel yet." —Huffington Post

"Giffin punctures suburban trophy mothers and private school privilege, rising above the often-shallow chick fray with a gimlet-eyed skepticism for the traps modern women fall into." —The Atlantan

"Giffin’s talent lies in making her characters believable and relatable, and readers will be enthralled by this layered, absorbing novel." —Booklist ("Starred Review")

"HEART OF THE MATTER is a messy, complicated, often uncomfortable portrait of a marriage—and two families—in crisis. But it has everything readers love about Emily Giffin’s books: the heart, the empathy, the truth." —Bookpage

"Questions of infidelity fill this book, which follows the life of pediatric surgeon Nick Russo through the eyes of Tessa, his wife, and Valerie, the mother of one of his patients, whom he is tempted to have an affair with. Transforming the women into more and more sympathetic characters with each turn, HEART OF THE MATTER is an emotional tale of temptation, redemption and letting love lead the way." —Woman’s Day

"Emily Giffin continues her streak of penning summer must-reads with HEART OF THE MATTER." —New York Metro

"A touching story about marriage, fidelity and two mothers who find themselves inextricably linked." —New York Family

"Though Emily Giffin has examined relationships in all of her novels, she reaches a new level of intensity with HEART OF THE MATTER. With characters who are older and wiser than those in her past books, she is able to examine the more serious topics that present themselves within long-term relationships and parenthood. Her characteristic flowing style of writing makes this book no different from her others: one you won’t want to put down." —Woodbury magazine

Kristi Lanier
Amid all the angst, Giffin displays her trademark ability to capture the complexities of human emotions while telling a rip-roaring tale. She maintains a will-they/won't-they tension and supplies enough clucking friends and relatives to keep it spicy.
—The Washington Post
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Giffin excels at creating complex characters and stories that ask us to explore what we really want from our lives.
Library Journal
Tessa Russo is a Boston stay-at-home mother of two young children. Her husband, Nick, is a busy pediatric surgeon. Valerie Anderson is a single mom of six-year-old Charlie. Their lives intersect when Charlie is badly burned at a sleepover party, and Nick becomes his doctor. Much to Nick's chagrin, Tessa is on the fast track to joining the inner circle of a clique of uptight and wealthy suburban moms; meanwhile, he increasingly devotes himself to Charlie and Valerie. His relationship with Valerie builds gradually as they fool themselves into believing that they are just friends. That is, until Tessa goes out of town. VERDICT Best-selling author Giffin's fifth novel (after Love the One You're With) is fast paced and well written; readers will be eager to find out how the relationships evolve and how the characters deal with the messy reality of adultery. Sure to be in demand by fans of women's fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10; 1.3 million-copy first printing.]—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250043733
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 73,861
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is the New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof and Love The One You’re With. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young children.

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Read an Excerpt

TESSA:

Whenever I hear of someone else’s tragedy, I do not dwell on the accident or diagnosis, or even the initial shockwaves or aftermath of grief. Instead, I find myself reconstructing those final, ordinary moments. Moments that make up our lives. Moments that were blissfully taken for granted—and that likely would have been forgotten altogether but for what followed. The before snapshots.

I can so clearly envision the thirty-four-year-old woman in the shower one Saturday evening, reaching for her favorite apricot body scrub, contemplating what to wear to the party, hopeful that the cute guy from the coffee shop will make an appearance, when she suddenly happens upon the unmistakable lump in her left breast.

Or the devoted, young father, driving his daughter to buy her first-day-of-school Mary Janes, cranking up Here Comes the Sun on the radio, reminding her for the umpteenth time that the Beatles are “without a doubt the greatest band of all time,” as the teenaged boy, bleary-eyed from too many late-night Budweisers, runs the red light.

Or the brash high-school receiver, full of promise and pride, out on the sweltering practice field the day before the big football game, winking at his girlfriend from her usual post at the chain-link fence, just before leaping into the air to make the catch nobody else could have made—and then twisting, falling headfirst on that sickening, fluke angle.

I think about the thin, fragile line separating all of us from misfortune, almost as a way of putting a few coins in my own gratitude meter, of safeguarding against an after happening to me. To us. Ruby and Frank, Nick and me. Our foursome—the source of both my greatest joys and most consuming worries.

And so, when my husband’s pager goes off while we are at dinner, I do not allow myself to feel resentment or even disappointment. I tell myself that this is only one meal, one night, even though it is our anniversary and the first proper date Nick and I have had in nearly a month, maybe two. I have nothing to be upset about, not compared to what someone else is enduring at this very instant. This will not be the hour I will have to rewind forever. I am still among the lucky ones.

“Shit. I’m sorry, Tess,” Nick says, silencing his pager with his thumb, then running his hand through his dark hair. “I’ll be right back.”

I nod my understanding and watch my husband stride with sexy, confident purpose toward the front of the restaurant where he will make the necessary call. I can tell, just by the sight of his straight back and broad shoulders navigating deftly around the tables, that he is steeling himself for the bad news, preparing to fix someone, save someone. It is when he is at his best. It is why I fell in love with him in the first place, seven years and two children ago.

Nick disappears around the corner as I draw a deep breath and take in my surroundings, noticing details of the room for the first time. The celadon abstract painting above the fireplace. The soft flicker of candlelight. The enthusiastic laughter at the table next to ours as a silver-haired man holds court with what appears to be his wife and four grown children. The richness of the cabernet I am drinking alone.

Minutes later, Nick returns with a grimace and says he’s sorry for the second, but certainly not the last, time.

“It’s okay,” I say, glancing around for our waiter.

“I found him,” Nick says. “He’s bringing our dinner to-go.”

I reach across the table for his hand and gently squeeze it. He squeezes mine back, and as we wait for our filets to arrive in Styrofoam, I consider asking what happened as I almost always do. Instead, I simply say a quick, simple prayer for the people I don’t know and then one for my own children, tucked safely into their beds.

I picture Ruby, softly snoring, all twisted in her sheets, wild even in her sleep. Ruby, our precocious, fearless firstborn, four going on fourteen, with her bewitching smile, dark curls that she makes even tighter in her self-portraits, too young to know that as a girl she is supposed to want what she does not have, and those pale aquamarine eyes, a genetic feat for her brown-eyed parents. She has ruled our home and hearts since virtually the day she was born—in a way that both exhausts me and fills me with admiration. She is exactly like her father—stubborn, passionate, breathtakingly beautiful. A daddy’s girl to the core.

And then there’s Frank, our satisfying baby boy with a cuteness and sweetness that exceeds the mere garden-variety-baby cute and sweet, so much so that strangers in the grocery store will stop and remark. He is nearly two, but still loves to cuddle, nestling his smooth round cheek against my neck, fiercely devoted to his mama. He’s not my favorite, I swear to Nick in private, when he smiles and accuses me of this parental transgression. I do not have a favorite, unless perhaps it is Nick himself. It is a different kind of love, of course. The love for my children is without condition or end, and I would most certainly save them over Nick, if say, all three were bitten by rattlesnakes on a camping trip and I only had two anti-venom shots in my backpack. And yet, there is nobody I’d rather talk to, be near, look at, than my husband, an unprecedented feeling that overcame me the moment we met.

Our dinner and check arrive moments later, and Nick and I stand and walk out of the restaurant into the star-filled, purple night. It is early October, but feels more like winter than fall—cold even by Boston standards—and I shiver beneath my long cashmere coat as Nick hands the valet our ticket and we get into our car. We leave the city and drive back to Wellesley with little conversation, listening to one of Nick’s many jazz CDs.

Thirty minutes later, we are pulling up our long, tree-lined driveway. “How late do you think you’ll be?”

“Hard to say,” Nick says, putting the car into park and leaning across the front seat to kiss my cheek. I turn my face toward him and our lips softly meet.

“Happy anniversary,” he whispers.

“Happy anniversary,” I say.

He pulls away, and our eyes lock as he says, “To be continued?”

“Always,” I say, forcing a smile and slipping out of the car.

Before I can close the door, Nick cranks up the volume of his music, dramatically punctuating the end of one evening, the start of another. As I let myself in the house, Vince Guaraldi’s Lullaby of the Leaves echoes in my head where it remains long after I’ve paid the babysitter, checked on the kids, changed out of my backless black dress and eaten cold steak at the kitchen counter.

Much later, having turned down Nick’s side of the bed and crawled into my own, I am alone in the dark, thinking of the call in the restaurant. I close my eyes, wondering whether we are ever truly blindsided by misfortune. Or, somehow, somewhere, in the form of empathy or worry or a premonition deep within ourselves, do we feel it coming?

I fall asleep, not knowing the answer. Not knowing that this will be the night I will return to, after all.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1448 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(516)

4 Star

(436)

3 Star

(291)

2 Star

(118)

1 Star

(87)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1458 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    Sets the stage for 2010 summer reads.

    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!

    35 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Read

    I loved reading this wonderful book! It is a story that keeps you entertained for hours.

    28 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved heart of the matter. It has a story I couldn't put down.

    I loved heart of the matter. It has a story I couldn't put down.

    25 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Infidelity and the aftermath...

    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.

    23 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Something remarkable.

    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.

    18 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    Could have been better.

    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.

    13 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Ms. Giffin's Best Yet..

    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.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Somewhat Mixed

    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...

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A MUST READ!

    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!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2010

    Couldn't put it down!

    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.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Poignant, realistic story where a mother's love meets a modern marraige

    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.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2012

    Very Disturbing

    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 .

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    Wonderful Read!

    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!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Her best work yet!

    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.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2010

    Page turner

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    Beach read, Characters a little too perfect.

    I almost put this down in the beginning. It was so over the top with the Harvard education of both the doc and the lawyer. The Cornell undergrads and the teaching position at Wellesley, enough already. Then on top of that the little boy has an in depth knowledge of classical music and composers. The characters were described as a bit too pretentious even the Lion guy was a brilliant talented artist. I grew up in a working class neighborhood where some girls got pregnant and none of them went off to Harvard. That said this is tough subject matter and Griffin's writing style is so engaging. The ego centric surgeon and the wife caught up in the mundane life of a stay at home mom is a little bit soap operaish but I finished it and was entertained. What more can you ask for a summer read?

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    i hate it... but i LOVE it!

    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. ;)

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    WELL DONE!

    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!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    Real life

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    Emily's best book yet!

    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!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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