Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin is a little (okay, a lot) different from the books I normally read. It follows just-turned-30 Rachel as she starts a relationship with her long time best friend's fiancé, Dexter. I liked that the story had real conflict: Rachel really does care about her friend, Darcy, but she also is truly in love with Dexter. There was no win-win outcome: Rachel must make a choice and accept one major gain alongside one major loss.
That being said, the nature of the conflict kept me at arms length from the main character. Giffin does a good job of arguing that it is sometimes okay to cheat if you really love the person with whom you are cheating, but that is something I just can not accept. Giffin's story presupposes love as something it is not--a feeling that will sustain a relationship as long as it is the right person. This is not the case. Love can be accompanied by these feelings, but first and foremost, it is a choice to commit to one person. Making that choice again every day is what sustains a relationship and then in turn those feelings we so often mistakenly call love.
Beyond the story's assumptions about the world, I just couldn't like any of the characters. Rachel is whiny, self-pitying, and painfully insecure. She represents what women are told they should be: powerful (she is a lawyer at a big firm), self-reliant (she lives on her own), and fulfilled without a man. But for Rachel it is only on the surface. Throughout her dating history she only feels that she is successful when she is in a relationship. Of all the good things in her life, Dex is the only one that makes her happy. I want to read about main characters who inspire me, ones who I can emulate. Rachel, most definitely, is not that.
Darcy was just as unlikeable. Her selfishness was more obvious than Rachel's, but even though Giffin makes it seem like Darcy deserves what is happening, I just couldn't get myself to care about her either way. Dex, the object of Rachel's obsession, never felt real to me. I couldn't understand why she loved him so much. Sure, he was confident, smart, and good looking, but he was a total asshole in the only scene where he really came alive for me. Plus, he's cheating on his fiancé. I need to really like a guy if he's a cheater and you want me to root for the heroine to end up with him.
One final thought--I don't know how any of the characters kept their jobs. They all have important, high-stress jobs (investment banking, practicing law, public relations), but all they ever seemed to do was send love notes and talk on the phone about either Darcy's wedding or Rachel's scandalous relationship. Oh, and sometimes they went out for lunch. All the while ignoring their inboxes.
Movie is in post-production and set for a 2011 release. Big name cast (Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson as Rachel and Darcy respectively). I'm interested to see what they do with it. If it ends up like Closer, it might be okay, but if they try to make in a chick flick... I'm just not sure it will translate well to the screen. Then again, I don't think Twilight translates well (the movie shows how creepy the obsessive love of the books really is), but it still did pretty well.