[Review] Heart of the Matter - Emily Giffin

Title of Book: Heart of the Matter
Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 336

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.


Heart of the Matter is the sixth book by Emily Giffin that I’ve read. Since I’ve read most of her works, I realize that her books are mostly about adultery (and almost adultery). For example, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Love the One You’re with. I won’t talk about the synopsis of the book more because its goodreads summary pretty much explain all you need to know as a reader. Fun fact, Tessa Russo is the sister of Dexter from Something Borrowed. So the Rachel & Darcy series and this book shares one universe.

In this book, we have two different women, Tessa and Valerie. Each has their own charm and Nick, who is Tessa’s husband, is in the middle of it. I usually can’t stand books about adultery, especially if it isn’t handled well. In my opinion, the way Giffin handled adultery in this book is acceptable. For example, Nick doesn’t fall for Valerie right away. There’s a process that in a way is understandable. Tessa used to be a working mom, then she decided to be a full time stay at home mom. It’s a change for her that of course affects her family too. She’s trying to adjust herself to be a stay at home mom. While Nick sensed this change as a discomfort in his home. He has a high pressure job and when he’s home, he’s faced with Tessa’s change. So he seeks comfort in another place. It’s wrong but I think it’s normal and humane to feel that way. Nobody’s perfect.

Moreover, in Valerie’s side, as a single mother she’s been through a lot caring for her boy alone. Particularly after the fire accident. Come along Nick as a savior in her sad time. Again, it’s reasonable for Valerie to fall for Nick. Maybe she’s mistaken her admiration and gratitude for Nick as love. But there’s a feeling there so I can see where the cheating came from.

I am in no way justifying Nick’s action, all I’m saying is Giffin manages to build up the cheating part and gives it a quite satisfying resolution. I’m telling you this because I’ve read some books which center around cheating but mostly they focused on the wife thinking her husband left her because she lacks of something then she tries to improve herself and finds someone new. It’s refreshing to read a book about adultery in which the wife doesn’t blame herself only. I mean, marriage takes a lot of work from both sides husband and wife.

All in all, Heart of the Matter is a book about adultery. If you’re not comfortable reading about that, then I wouldn’t suggest this book for you. But if you’re looking for a book about adultery that’s well handled, Heart of the Matter is the book you might want to try.


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