Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Something Blue

I recently re-read Emily Giffin's Something Blue, which I read for the first time about two years ago.  Something Blue is a companion to her first bestselling novel, Something Borrowed, and in my opinion, definitely the stronger of the two.

Something Borrowed ends (spoiler alert!) with Darcy Rhone breaking off her engagement to Dex.... then confessing to her best friend Rachel that she has been having an affair with groomsman Marcus and is now pregnant with his child.... and then discovering a boxer-clad Dex hiding in Rachel's closet, thus leading to the realization that Dex and Rachel have been having an affair of their own.  All in about 10 pages.  So clearly, this was begging for a sequel.

While Something Borrowed is told from Rachel's point of view, Something Blue is wholly Darcy's story.  It picks up right where SoBo left off, with Darcy storming out of Rachel's apartment.  Darcy has always led a charmed, perfect life, getting exactly what she wants.  She is spoiled, selfish, and shallow--the kind of woman you'd never want to be friends with in real life, but who manages to be utterly captivating in fiction.

In Something Blue, though, Darcy's charmed life takes a series of dramatic turns.  First, she decides that having a baby with her boyfriend is a "hip, trendy" thing to do--her primary concern is that it might slow down her social life.  But after learning about Dex and Rachel's relationship, she is overcome by jealousy and regret.  She cannot seem to stop fixating on them, their supposed betrayal of her, and the current status of their relationship.  Her parents completely disapprove of Marcus (with good reason) and are shocked to learn of her pregnancy, and Darcy reacts with typical selfish immaturity, cutting off all communication with them.  And then Marcus breaks up with her--the first time in her entire life that she has been on the receiving end of a breakup.  When her socialite friend Claire tries to reassure her with promises of setting her up with another eligible bachelor, Darcy confesses her pregnancy to Claire.  Not only does Claire utterly ditch Darcy as a friend, but she spreads the juicy gossip about her situation.  In a fit of anger, Darcy takes an open-ended leave of absence from her glamourous PR firm (where Claire also works).  And suddenly, the girl who has always had a perfect life is utterly alone--friendless, jobless, boyfriendless, not speaking to her own parents, and pregnant.

Rather than making any amends, Darcy sweet-talks her childhood friend Ethan into letting her come to London to visit him.  He thinks it will be for a few weeks, tops; she plans to make the relocation permanent.  She spends her early weeks in London burning through her savings by purchasing designer clothes and keeping a lookout for rich, eligible, handsome men that might not mind the fact that she's pregnant with another man's child.  And remarkably, she finds one.  It seems like she's on track to get back her perfect life.

But she also learns that she's not going to have the beautiful little girl she envisioned.... rather, she's having twin boys.  As a single, jobless mom.  Yikes.  And then, in the midst of the pregnancy hormones and self-pity over how rough her life is, Ethan lays into her about how poorly she treated Rachel for all the years of their friendship and how irresponsible her current lifestyle is.  And she actually listens and takes his words to heart.  And slowly, the shallow Darcy begins to grow into a character that we can not only like, but admire.

While I always love Emily Giffin's writing, I typically do not like her characters very much.  I simply cannot sympathize with most of them.  But I absolutely LOVED Darcy's voice in Something Blue.  She was utterly selfish and completely unapologetic.  She was charismatic and unabashed.  And somehow, in spite of the fact that she "had it coming to her," I found myself rooting for her entirely.  I consider this a huge win for Emily Giffin, who drew Darcy's character so beautifully that readers grew to love her in spite of themselves.  There's nothing "literary" or substansive about this book, but it was a charming treat--much like Darcy herself.

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