Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Recently Read: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Something BorrowedI admit that I didn't read Something Borrowed back when it came out in the hey day of chick lit because I had confused Emily Giffin with Sophie Kinsella.  And to my credit, the original covers of Something Borrowed  and Confessions of a Shopaholic were both that same sort of uber-pink chick lit design (see below).  Further confusing me was that I'd never read Confessions of a Shopaholic but a different Kinsella novel where a young, brilliant, female lawyer (same as Something Borrowed) hates her job (same as Something Borrowed) and has man/friend problems (same as Something Borrowed).

So let's just say I was throughly confused.

Then I saw the trailer for Something Borrowed at the movie theater.  It looked so cute!  Girl with longtime crush on her best friend's fiancé drunkenly lands in bed with him and everyone realizes in the nick of time who they really love and that they deserve to chase happiness not accept defeat!  Yay! (No spoilers in there, that's just what the film trailer implies.)

Confessions of a ShopaholicSo I -- and every other person who'd seen the movie trailer -- went to the library and requested a copy of the actual book.  I finally got a copy a few weeks ago and settled in to read super cute chick lit fluffiness.

It was not super cute.

Chapter one introduces the characters.  Chapter two finds the main character sleeping with her best friend's fiancé and then starting an affair with him.  Um ... not okay.  Certainly not warm and fuzzy and cute.  As the book progresses many of the main relationships shift radically.  Other characters have to help the main character see this -- see who her real friends are and see who is using her.  Because basically the main character has no freaking clue at the beginning of the novel.

Okay, so I'm maybe half-way, two-thirds finished with the book before the main character and I both get the hint that the main character isn't having an affair with her best friend's fiancé, she's having an affair with the fiancé of her former best friend who is actually a shallow and kind of cruel woman.  Oh.  Still not as cute as I'd been hoping for.

Perhaps I would have found the cute factor the chick lit cover promised me if it hadn't been written in first person (I know, I know, chick lit and a first person narrator are peas in a pod but hear me out).

Because we're wrapped up in the narrator's thoughts and prejudices so tightly by the use of the first person, we aren't allowed to see characters for how they really are.  Our view of them as readers is completely shaped by the narrator's (delusional) view of them.  So we don't realize that the best friend is pretty bitchy for a long, long time.  We aren't allowed to come to that realization because the narrator tempers and makes excuses for everything the best friend does.  The bitchiness even seems to give the narrator purpose in life as the person who tempers the bitchiness -- and the character is proud of this ability! -- so as a reader, I was never given enough distance from the events to make my own judgments about the situation and therefore start rooting for the character to make realizations and changes.  Instead the narrator served as a heavy filter between me and the story.  So I got to the end and ... oh.  It's done. That was the ending? Huh.

I hope the movie Something Borrowed was as cute as the trailer promised it would be, because the book was not as cute as the trailer promised.

Highly Recommended