51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
On the surface, Ellen Graham appears to have the perfect life. She has a successful career as a photographer and is married to Andy, a wealthy lawyer who's a fantastic guy and also happens to be the brother of Ellen's best friend, Margot. Several months after Ellen and Andy's wedding, Ellen is going about her business on the streets of New York City when she bumps into Leo, her ex-boyfriend. Ellen hasn't seen or spoken to Leo in years, but as soon as she sees him again, she can't stop thinking about him. Eventually Ellen is forced to decide if what she had with Leo so long ago is worth fighting for, or if she truly belongs with the man she walked down the aisle with.
I always enjoy Emily Giffin's books, and "Love the One You're With" is no exception. Ellen is a very relatable character. I think a lot women encounter their own Leo at some point in their lives, a man who's difficult to completely let go of, for one reason or another. However, the book was very predictable right from the start, and it was pretty obvious how everything would turn out. (There's no such thing as an unhappy ending in an Emily Giffin book!) The ending in itself seemed rather rushed, in my opinion, and I would have enjoyed a longer Ellen/Margot reconciliation scene at the end: Their friendship was a major part of the book, and the resolution between the two characters took up less than three pages at the end of the novel. Still, I enjoyed this book from beginning to end and could not put it down.
169 of 199 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2008
I am an Emily Giffin fan. I am an unabashed, unashamed Emily Giffin fan. Her books pull me in the way a good date does, attracting me with a glossy exterior but keeping me interested by revealing a surprising depth.
LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH contains the usual smart, charmed female protagonist living in a rather romanticized version of New York. But, in the first chapter, Giffin does something different. She introduces us to the main character's tempting dilemma - a charged encounter on the street with a hot, old boyfriend - before even telling us her name.
The character's name is Ellen. She's so analytical that she's practically obsessive compulsive. And she spends a lot of LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH debating what she should - and should not - do about her cute, sweet husband Andy and her smoldering, brooding, dark and troubled ex-boyfriend Leo.
While Ellen's happy with Andy, she keeps thinking, "What if?"
This is the central problem of many a novel, but Giffin manages to hook the reader in with - dare I say it - some of the most erotic, intriguing flashbacks to Ellen's former relationship with Leo.
The husband Andy is a charming character, but, in Ellen's shoes, I would totally bang Leo. Giffin writes him as though he exudes sex through his eyes, through his pores. It's all very hard to resist.
And, it must be said, the inclusion of those scenes alongside many snarky references to my hometown of Atlanta kept me very entertained.
Strangely though, instead of flying all the way through it as I usually do, I flew through to Chapter Ten or so, then found myself taking a small break from it to concentrate on other things. Around the time that Ellen went to the charming, stylized Atlanta for the first time and then to photograph rock star Drake Watters, I was intrigued again.
After that, I was pulled back into the book every time that Ellen's sister Suzanne, a minor character with an edgy point-of-view, appeared on the page, though, for she was the voice I most related to in the long course of the book.
The core family of Ellen's in-laws at the center of the book, though, didn't always have my sympathies. In life, I tend to find those sorts of blessed, charmed, passive-aggressive, let's-put-on-a-smile types suspicious. Giffin makes was a very, very interesting move to have Ellen not just marry a man like Andy, but marry into her best friend and sister-in-law Margot's family. Giffin's excellent at exploring the dynamics of female friendship, and the Ellen-Margot friendship is satisfyingly complicated.
When Ellen is perplexed by her ex, she loses her chief confidante in Margot, for Margot's loyalty might go to her brother when news of what Ellen's secrets might come out.
The changing alliances of the marriage brings out Ellen's insecurity about her place, her feelings about her mother and how her own family must've felt intimidated and outmatched in comparison to the Grahams. Great, great stuff.
Of course, the protagonist Ellen might divide readers, for Ellen's in what many women would consider an ideal, supportive situation with a rich, successful and essentially sweet husband, loving in-laws, a nice house, a good career and such. Some readers might approach the book with the outset of "What the hell is she doing even thinking about infidelity when she's got it made?" But, once again, Giffin impresses by putting her protagonist squarely in the middle of what, at face value, seems like an indefensible position and manages to make her real, charming, vulnerable, reasonable and a heroine worthy of my attention as a reader and even my heart. Ellen, shockingly, considers infidelity for what feels like very valid reasons involving her heart and her choices.
It's a very smart book.
93 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2008
Not my favorite of Ms. Giffen's books, but interestingly, it is the book that I have been most able to relate to. I understand Ellen's need to understand and process, and ulimately resolve, the difference between the love she feels for her husband, and the love she feels/felt for her ex. I think that the book's realistic yet affirming take on love marriage and commitment is a welcome read for the so called "chick lit" genre.
At the same time, I lost patience with Ellen by page 75. By page 158, I was almost angry with her for taking so long to figure it out. By page 215, I simply vowed to finish the book by the end of the day, and get it over with. Lucky for me, the ending was sweet, and everyone that mattered was happy.
I think the problem is that there was not enough action and plot, and most of the characters -- the ones that I most wanted to learn about -- were kind of flat and one-dimensional. Overall, a good read, and I will buy Ms. Giffen's next book the week it comes out as well.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2008
loved this book! emily griffin is a great writer.....i loved soomething borrowed and something blue, so when i saw this one out, i had to buy it. the ending is a total surprise and i loved it. it made me believe in true love again! great writing!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2008
Emily is just a wonderful writer! I have been waiting for this book to come out and it did not disappoint. She allows her readers to connect so well. I could not put this book down and my college roommates could not wait til I finished so they too could get their hands on it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2008
This book is one of my top 3 favorites of all time. Any woman that has had a serious relationship (with a man or woman) will relate with Ellen and her feelings for Leo and Andy.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2009
Wow, I just finished reading this latest Giffin novel in less than a 24 hour period. I could not put it down. I have read all of her others, and to me this one is the very best yet. I LOVED it. I can't believe all the negative reviews and am shocked to see that many readers did not connect with Ellen. I loved Ellen and found her completely charming. I was not only able to relate to Ellen, but to her story as well. Many parts of it could have been my own and so I found it to be understandable and touching. I was really moved(at times to tears) by Giffin's ability to lay bare the bones of such a situation. I am sure many women have found themselves in a crossroads between two men. Loving two men at the same time for different reasons and having to choose one is not something that is easy or that can be taken lightly, especially with an entire family involved. I have had to make such a choice myself and was impressed with how dead-on accurate Ellen's feelings were depicted by Giffin. Being a woman that finds herself in this heartbreaking scenario should'nt cause such judgement and criticism from other women. I don't agree that Ellen was spoiled or felt entitled in any way. She grew up in a blue-collar enviroment and often felt out of place in the Graham's lifestyle. She knew she had a good thing with Andy, and she appreciated him. She and Leo had shared something intense and she longed to define it. She felt like she could'nt really move on until she did. Was it true love or just lust? She knew she loved Andy, but she wanted to be sure she had taken the right path. Don't we all wonder what if at some point in our lives? She had'nt been given a choice. Margot took that away from her by keeping the fact that Leo had stopped by the apartment after the break-up. Ellen wondered would her life have been different? Leo was raised much like herself, middle class. They shared a similar background. In the Andy world, Ellen felt like an outcast. I could relate to the whole rich/poor, Southern/Yankee dynamic as well. It's uncanny how well I related to this entire novel. The only thing I falied to relate to was the ending. In my opinion Ellen chose wrong. This is a wonderful book. It is one I will put on the shelf for a later reading. Giffin implies that real love is a choice, not just a feeling. I agree and I hope that her next book holds as much depth and pure enjoyment as this one did.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2011
I have always been an Emily Giffin fan, but this book really topped it. This story definitely applies to real life--a girl trying to decide on her past or more forward with her future. This story makes you think about your own life and whether you should stay chasing the past or moving with the future.
38 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
As a newlywed myself, I picked up this book from the library thinking that it would be good fun. Boy, was I ever mistaken!
As other reviewers have pointed out, the plot (if one could call it that) proceeds at a snail's pace. Instead of action, we are treated to interminable monologues and bloated flashbacks from our singularly obnoxious narrator, Ellen. I doubt that Ellen's self-centered musings would be of much interest to her own therapist, and for a reader looking for a fun summer escape they are Dull City indeed.
Besides the lack of plot, here are some other things that annoyed me to no end:
-The dialogue. Honestly, who talks like this? It was like a script for a really bad sitcom, replete with lazy pop culture references and groan-inducing puns that are supposed to pass for flirtatious banter. As Ellen fires off a round of questions, her husband says, "Whoa there, Inspector Gadget!" Lame. Ellen, meanwhile, frequently congratulates herself on her deadpanned quips and wisecracks, with are all without fail terrible and bristling with outdated sarcasm.
-The characters. Leo, Ellen's brooding ex, was a risibly superficial character study, like a cardboard cutout of "pretentious NY artist type." He didn't seem real-- none of them did. Not Oscar, the "somber Brit with a dry streak of humor" (stereotype), not Stella, the pastel-clad Atlanta matriarch, and not Andy, Ellen's achingly dull husband. Puppet shows have more substance! Ellen, as others have pointed out, was extremely unlikeable-- in fact, not since The Confederency of Dunces has there been so awful a protagonist. What an immature narcissist! At one point she gives Andy the finger behind his back. Nice.
-The places. Has Emily Giffin ever been to Pittsburgh? Or to New York, for that matter? The descriptions and evocations of the novel's settings relied heavily on stereotype. New York: greatest city in the world, late-night food deliveries, the "pulse" and "rhythym" of the big city, black clothes, brownstones, lofts, blah blah. And Pittsburgh: steel, salt of the earth folk, blue-collar. Atlanta: hot weather, golf, debutantes, pastels, sweet tea, "bless her heart." It's hard not to stereotype when you're writing about places you clearly know nothing about, so maybe Ms. Giffin ought to stick to her hometown for setting inspiration.
-The infidelity. For infidelity to work, so to speak, in a work of fiction, the pairing needs to be both believable and cataclysmically sexy (think Olivier Martinez and Diane Lane in "Unfaithful.") The reader needs to feel the protagonist's temptation and yearning. Otherwise, it is both egregiously unmoral and criminally dull. Ellen and Leo together were about as appealing as a rubberband and an old shoe.
It was also pretty annoying how the death of Ellen's mother was brought up every few paragraphs. In the book, it happened over twenty years ago. No, you don't ever "get over" a parent's death, but if you're still constantly reminded of it after two decades, then you really should be in therapy, NOT in a self-destructive love affair with a loser ex.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Ellen has married the perfect man. Andy is from a rich, old money family in Georgia, a lawyer who hates confrontations and is considerate in every possible way. His family is just as perfect; they have accepted Ellen into their circle with open arms. Her sister-in-law is her best friend, and that is how she hooked up with Andy. Ellen is a successful photographer in New York. Her life couldn't be better. So is she still thinking about her ex-boyfriend? When she runs into Leo by chance, all of the old memories come flooding back. Why did he break up with her when their relationship had been so wonderful and intense? Was he the one? Did she settle for Andy? Overwhelmed with confusion, Ellen falls into a somewhat reluctant game of flirtation with Leo as she tries to keep guilt at bay by pointing out the problems in her marriage to Andy, especially after they move to Georgia.
Love the One You're With is one of the most wonderfully written chick-lits out there. Emily Giffin doesn't write shallow and silly novels about single women wanting to get married. Her novels have substance, and this effort is very profound, more so than Something Borrowed and Something Blue, and those were very well written as well. This novel spoke to me. I went through something similar to Ellen. Most women have an "unrequited" or "star-crossed" love from the past, and it's wonderful to read something from a heroine who is fleshed out and three-dimensional. Ellen's inner musings and feelings are very real -- things that I have thought about myself -- and it's almost as if you're reading about yourself. Again, I absolutely LOVED Love the One You're With. The rather cutesy cover doesn't do this wonderful work justice, which is why I removed the jacket while I read it. I know I called this a "chick-lit," and I guess it is, but it shouldn't be marketed that way. This is a great piece of women's fiction.