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Love the One You're With Paperback – April 21, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 665 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A chance encounter with an old flame in Giffin's bittersweet, sometimes mawkish fourth novel causes Ellen Dempsey to consider anew what could have been. Shortly after marrying Andy, Ellen runs into Leo, her intense first love. Leo, a moody writer, has secretly preoccupied Ellen ever since he broke her heart, so after seeing him again, Ellen wonders if her perfect life is truly what she wants or simply what she was expected to want. This scenario is complicated by Ellen's past: the early death of her mother and subsequent disintegration of her family have left Ellen insecure and saddled with unresolved feelings of guilt. These feelings intensify when Andy's career takes the newlyweds from Ellen's beloved New York City to suburban Atlanta. As Ellen's feelings of inadequacy and resentment grow, her marriage begins to crumble. The novel is sometimes bogged down by characters so rooted in type that they, and the story line, can only move in the most obvious trajectory. However, Giffin's self-aware narrator and focus on troubled relationships will satisfy those looking for a light women's lit fix. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Giffin's talent lies in taking relatable situations and injecting enough wit and suspense to make them feel fresh. The cat-and-mouse game between Ellen and Leo lights up these pages, their flirtation as dangerously addictive as a high-speed car chase.” ―People

“Giffin is a dependably down-to-earth, girlfriendly storyteller.” ―New York Times

“Giffin excels at creating complex characters and stories that ask us to explore what we really want from our lives. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH skillfully explores the secret workings of a young woman's heart, and the often painful consequences of one's actions.” ―The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Giffin's fluid storytelling and appealing characters give her novels a warm, inviting air, and her fourth is no exception. Giffin's snappy prose makes Ellen's dilemma compelling, once again proving she's at the top of the pack.” ―Booklist

“Though it's easy to resent Ellen for taking her ideal life for granted, Giffin's vivid depictions of Ellen's steamy past with Leo help you commiserate with this realistically insecure woman.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“Giffin's books are funny, sensitive and truthful depictions of female friendships and the complexities of marriage and motherhood.” ―Atlanta Peach

“Ellen's conflicting thoughts and emotions ring true from page one through the book's teary (well, at least for this reader) conclusion.” ―Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

“Giffin's book is instantly relatable. Few don't wonder how their lives would be different if they had turned left rather than right at life's big forks. Her writing is realistic and entertaining. There are unexpected plot twists and measured jabs at materialism and Southern societal norms, and Giffin's funny, honest voice lends credence to this modern riff on the old adage that the grass appears greener on the other side of the fence.” ―Charlotte Observer

“I so loved Emily Giffin's last three books that I almost didn't want to crack her latest effort, for fear it would be the Superman IV of the author's literary opus. Mercifully, the new book not only lives up to its elegantly constructed predecessors, it arguably surpasses them in style, maturity, emotion and overall relatability. An achingly honest look at the notion of love as the sum of our choices as opposed to the contents of our vows.” ―Edmonton Journal

“Giffin's books are smart, sad and witty . . . Giffin is bold enough to allow a mainstream heroine to be happily married while still maintaining her curiosity about the road (or the guy) not taken, let alone considering infidelity. And she's able to show the strains that these considerations take on family, friends and husband . . . It's the difference between appealing to a mass audience and a reader who wants her ideals challenged rather than affirmed, often intentionally ending in ambiguity and compromise. It's the stuff of real life, stripped of literary pretensions.” ―National Post

“Who hasn't fantasized about what might have happened if? Giffin does an excellent job of letting us live that one out vicariously while telling us a story that is so modern, multi-layered and moving that you'll feel a little sad when it comes to a close.” ―Gentry magazine

“Giffin is a masterful storyteller and manages to infuse energy, freshness and suspense into what could have been yet another predictable 'woman-at-a-crossroads' story. (Giffin could, in fact, teach some literary authors a few things about how to write compelling plots with strong motors.) The best thing about this book is Giffin doesn't play it safe or shy away from allowing her heroine to explore lust, infidelity and the road not taken. The dichotomy of passion and comfort, lust and security, is nothing new to literature, and yet in Giffin's deft hands, I really had no idea who Ellen would wind up with until the very last page, and more important, I actually cared.” ―The Globe and Mail

“This sweet tale satisfies through well-drawn characters who are forced to make some tough real-life decisions.” ―Star

“Love that's clouded by the memory of an old romantic relationship is the subject of Emily Giffin's aptly titled LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH. Readers will follow Ellen with fascination and trepidation as she enters the dangerous waters of what might have been--or still could be.” ―Hartford Courant

“LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH is a delicious novel for anyone ever caught between what is right and what is irresistible.” ―Bookpage

“Giffin delivers another relatable and multifaceted heroine who may behave unexpectedly but will ultimately find her true path.” ―Library Journal

“Giffin's fourth novel demonstrate much depth as she explores the conflicts that arise between passion and common sense.” ―Kansas City Star

“For anyone who has wondered about the path not taken. Thought-provoking . . . and perfect for an afternoon in the sun.” ―New York Resident

“Giffin has a remarkable gift for taking banal relationship issues and infusing them with life through her characters. LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH is Giffin's most moving book yet. The romantic tension hangs off the pages like webs, trapping the characters as they attempt to live conventional lives. As always, Giffin's writing will leave you fully satiated.” ―Woodbury magazine

“Emily Giffin delivers the characters and stories we love in her fourth novel.” ―OK! magazine

“Giffin's characters are all quite likable, and this book is full of fun New York details and musings on the human condition that are more insightful than many books.” ―Minneapolis Star-Tribune


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312348665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312348663
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (665 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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!
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
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?
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