On the evening of her thirtieth birthday, Rachel White goes out with some of her closest friends to celebrate — and have a wee bit too much to drink. After her best friend Darcy is carried home, Rachel is left alone to while away the hours with Dex, Darcy’s fiance — and an old friend of Rachel’s. Feeling low and nostalgic, Rachel and Dex stay out talking and drinking until late in the evening. And Dex doesn’t quite find his way home that evening . . .
So begins Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed, a page-turner of a novel about friendship, love and honesty — and standing up for yourself. After decades of playing second fiddle to the exuberant, bossy and gorgeous Darcy, Rachel just wants to be out of her best friend’s shadow, though she can’t quite balance those rebellious feelings against the intense loyalty she still feels for her.
Which is funny, considering she’s cheating with Dex, Darcy’s longtime boyfriend and current fiance. And Rachel is the maid of honor. And she and Darcy are inseparable — except for the times that Rach is kissing Dex, of course.
It’s crazy how much I really felt for Rachel, not Darcy — Darcy is almost a wholly unlikeable character. Rachel is trying to assert herself, take control of her own life . . . and finds herself truly in love, perhaps for the first time. Her relationship with Dex develops apart from Darcy but is, of course, completely shaped by Darcy. Can it ever be anything more? And can Dex actually go through with this sham of a marriage?
I really loved this book — and as an avid reader of women’s fiction, I can say sincerely that Giffin is a master at describing the intensity of first love, the complication of wanting to please our parents but also ourselves, at being a good friend but still protecting your own heart and interests when needed. She moves quickly through each scene without letting anything get too weighty, but we still feel the emotional resonance of the story. I felt connected to everyone and everything happening, though Giffin never lets us get too mired down in guilt or sympathy. It would pain me to see this labeled as a “beach read,” though I can definitely enjoy both books immensely! This just has so much to think about and process, if you let yourself get totally absorbed (and you will — I don’t think you’ll have a choice!).
All of the subtle touches in Something Borrowed just made it feel real to me — the dialogue was realistic, the scenes all believable, the characters flawed but lovable. And I was floored when we got a detail like Rachel having to retreat home from a tryst for the evening because she didn’t have any contact lens solution — she couldn’t sleep in her contacts! Finally — it’s not all roses and passionate kisses and staring deeply into each other’s eyes. We have to take out our freaking contact lenses before sleeping, thankyouverymuch. And as a serious Anglophile, I was ecstatic at the change of scenery toward the end of the novel. Sold!
Insightful, moving and just highly entertaining, don’t hesitate to pick up this one if it sounds like a genre you might enjoy (or if you’re looking to branch out!). Can’t wait to pick up the sequel, Something Blue, in the near future.