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Heart of the Matter [Hardcover]

Emily Giffin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 11 2010
"Giffin excels at creating complex characters and stories that ask us to explore what we really want from our lives."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon.  Despite her own mother's warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.
 
Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie--a boy who has never known his father.  After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance--and even to some degree, friendships--believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.
 
Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children.  But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined. 
 
In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

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Review

"[A] modern-day Jane Austen." —Vanity Fair
 
"In HEART OF THE MATTER, [Giffin] again uses her great wit and gift of storytelling to weave a tale that’s nuanced, empathetic and, at times, heartbreaking. Matters of the heart are always complicated, and Giffin deftly shows you why." —Associated Press

"Giffin’s latest opens with one of the more haunting scenes in recent memory [and] towards the end things are so tense that the pages pop with each turn." —People

"With [an] adulterous path outlined, Giffin could easily take sides. But she doesn't. Instead, she alternates between Tessa's and Valerie's points of view, dissecting the feelings and insecurities that can dismantle even the most intelligent people… Amid all the angst, Giffin displays her trademark ability to capture the complexities of human emotions while telling a rip-roaring tale." —Washington Post

"Giffin’s calling card has always been her ability to delve into the workings of relationships. But in her latest book the best-selling novelist probes deeper than ever… With intelligence, humor and piercing insight, Giffin shows that in matters of love, it is possible to be right and yet so wrong." —Family Circle

"With realistic dialogue and a sharp depiction of relationships, Giffin crafts an emotional, effortless read." —More

"Giffin beautifully shows how quickly need becomes love…[and her] chronicle of fluid, almost casual marital disconnect is a powerful cautionary tale." —Boston Globe

"In HEART OF THE MATTER, Giffin delivers her best book yet. Once again she plays with the idea of point of view, but this time she wraps it into a single, tightly written narrative that creates an addictive page-turning sense of tension. [W]hat makes this novel special are the emotional depths to which Giffin takes her readers [and] the question of what the aftermath can possibly look like for these two likable characters is what keeps readers glued to Giffin's engaging tale." —Dallas Morning News

"There are no easy answers here, in a novel that is consistently engrossing right to the surprising finish." —Seattle Times

"Giffin’s latest novel delves deep into the all-too-tricky matters of the heart…this juicy read will make you feel like you’re sneaking a peek into your best friend’s diary." —Redbook

"Giffin's books are fast-moving, emotionally absorbing stories about female friendships, marriage and childbirth." —Chicago Tribune

"Even as you steel yourself for [the book’s pivotal moment], it's hard to read when it happens, which is what sets this book a step above so many others...[Giffin] creates characters in Tessa, Valerie and Nick who are believable and mostly well-intentioned even as they make obviously bad choices." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"As HEART OF THE MATTER takes its time documenting the inexorable slide toward an affair, the slow-moving sequence of events rings true." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Emily Giffin’s newest novel is a little painful to read. OK, a lot painful to read. As a reader, you find yourself in the oddly painful position of rooting for two women who can't both get what they want. Your heart breaks for both of them [but] you'll know that feeling this kind of emotional torture with and about characters is a good thing. It's simply cathartic." —Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

"Unfolding from Tessa and Valerie’s alternating viewpoints, [HEART OF THE MATTER] will draw you in with beautifully complex characters who come across as nuanced and as flawed as people in real life. Giffin avoids victimizing Tessa while allowing empathy for Valerie, underscoring that all of us are capable of making mistakes that hurt those we love most." —VIV magazine

"[A] brutally honest book in that it never falters in its depiction of hope and heartache. Emily Giffin is a talented writer who re-gifts her talent in the books she creates…With HEART OF THE MATTER she turns up the heat and gives us her best novel yet." —Huffington Post

"Giffin punctures suburban trophy mothers and private school privilege, rising above the often-shallow chick fray with a gimlet-eyed skepticism for the traps modern women fall into." —The Atlantan

"Giffin’s talent lies in making her characters believable and relatable, and readers will be enthralled by this layered, absorbing novel." —Booklist ("Starred Review")

"HEART OF THE MATTER is a messy, complicated, often uncomfortable portrait of a marriage—and two families—in crisis. But it has everything readers love about Emily Giffin’s books: the heart, the empathy, the truth." —Bookpage

"Questions of infidelity fill this book, which follows the life of pediatric surgeon Nick Russo through the eyes of Tessa, his wife, and Valerie, the mother of one of his patients, whom he is tempted to have an affair with. Transforming the women into more and more sympathetic characters with each turn, HEART OF THE MATTER is an emotional tale of temptation, redemption and letting love lead the way." —Woman’s Day

"Emily Giffin continues her streak of penning summer must-reads with HEART OF THE MATTER." —New York Metro

"A touching story about marriage, fidelity and two mothers who find themselves inextricably linked." —New York Family

"Though Emily Giffin has examined relationships in all of her novels, she reaches a new level of intensity with HEART OF THE MATTER. With characters who are older and wiser than those in her past books, she is able to examine the more serious topics that present themselves within long-term relationships and parenthood. Her characteristic flowing style of writing makes this book no different from her others: one you won’t want to put down." —Woodbury magazine

About the Author

Emily Giffin is the New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof and Love The One You’re With.  She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young children. 


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best books to date! May 21 2010
By BookChick TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I've loved Emily Giffin's books since I first picked up "Something Borrowed". "Something Blue" quickly became my favourite book of hers, and "Love the One You're With" and "Baby Proof" were good, but not as good as I had hoped. However, "Heart of the Matter" is, in my opinion, her best book to date. The subject matter is not as light as her previous books, but the depth of emotion and the skill with which she writes is incredible.

I'm going to be deliberately vague when describing this book, since the publisher's description is as well. Part of what made this book so compelling was discovering the various details of the plot on my own, and not having someone spoil it for me ahead of time. What I will say is that "Heart of the Matter" is written from the viewpoints of two very different women: Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and married to a skilled pediatric surgeon. She has recently quit her job so that she can stay at home and focus on being a mom, but her decision has left her with a vague dissatisfaction. Valerie Anderson is a single mother to six-year-old Charlie, as well as an attorney. She's fairly satisfied with her life, but can't shake the feeling that something is missing. One night the lives of these two women intersect, and nothing will be the same for them again.

As I mentioned, "Heart of the Matter" is one of Emily Giffin's best books to date. She conveys such emotion with her words- at parts of the book I literally gasped out loud, finding it almost painful to continue reading the story. I felt as though I was experiencing the things that the characters were; that's how involved I was.

Giffin also takes a difficult situtation, one where there is not a wrong or a right answer, and tries to present two views without ever choosing sides.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of an affair July 11 2010
Format:Audio CD
Author Emily Giffin has an ardent following, but this is the first of her books that I've read. The writing is smooth and effective but I found the story somehow too small, too often told, without that one original angle that could have lifted it to the ranks of the memorable.

The book opens with Dr. Nick Russo and his wife Tessa enjoying an evening out to celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary. Nick is an esteemed plastic surgeon in a Boston hospital and Tessa has given up her job to stay at home with their two children. Theirs is a life of comfort, but Nick (as is the way with surgeons, ho hum) works too much, and Tessa, worried that she'll lose herself without a job to establish her individuality, finds the workload of caring for a house and two children (and keeping up with the other mothers) rather exhausting and stressful.

Nick is called away from the anniversary dinner to attend a young boy burned in a fire. The boy's mother, Valerie, is a corporate lawyer, raising her son on her own and feeling lonely and also sad that her son is growing up without a father.

Actually these characters are not quite so flat and cliched as they sound; and cliches usually describe elements we recognize as frequently occurring. But in Heart of the Matter, these people have a little history, and some family connections, but mainly they have the immediate situation of Nick's and Valerie's growing attraction to each other. It doesn't feel like quite enough.

The book alternates between Tessa's first-person story and a narrative from Valerie's point of view. This closes the boundaries even tighter, reduces the story to just this one set of questions: will they? won't they?
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4.0 out of 5 stars AN AFFECTING, SENSITIVE STORY - AUDIO EDITION May 28 2010
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Cynthia Nixon not only won hearts and plaudits as Miranda on HBO's tremendously successful Sex and the City, but has often displayed her acting chops on Broadway (Hurly-Burly, Angels In America, etc). A Tony, Emmy and Grammy winning actress she is talented and versatile as was seen in her compelling portrayal of Eleanor Roosevelt. Thus, it has been a great boon for audio book aficionados to hear her bring popular stories to life.

With HEART OF THE MATTER we hear the story of two women whose lives intersect in ways they never would have dreamed. Emily Giffin is an intelligent author who draws complex, affecting characters. Readers are immediately drawn into their hearts and minds, and again this is the case when we meet Tessa Russo and Valerie Anderson.

Tessa, the mother of two young childen is married to Nick, a successful and dedicated pediatric surgeon. She turned her back on a Wellesley professorship to devote herself to being a full-time mom. She adores her husband and children. Tessa's life seems to be one all would envy.

Valerie lives in the same Boston suburb as the Russos yet their paths have not yet crossed. She is a lawyer, a single mom who is personally fragile - vulnerable and lonely. Charlie, her young son, is the light of her life. When he is involved in a near fatal accident Nick invests not only his professional care but a personal interest in the boy. He and Valerie are drawn together in their concern for Charlie.

Suddenly Nick is an important figure in the lives of both Tessa and Valerie, and he finds that he has feelings for both. This would seem to be an impossible situation, sure to cause heartbreak for someone.

Cynthia Nixon deftly segues between the voices of Tessa and Valerie as listeners find themselves engrossed in another of Emily Giffen's sensitive stories.

- Gail Cooke
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Emily Griffin is amazing
Emily is one of my fave authors! I absolutely loved this book. I can totally relate to the story. 😃
Published 14 days ago by Miel
5.0 out of 5 stars I really like Emily Giffin
After reading almost all of her books I must say that I very much like Emily Giffin style of writting. Heart of the matter been one of my favorite book from her. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Miriam
4.0 out of 5 stars Tear Jerker
This one was difficult for me to get through because there was so much deep emotion involved.
Made me quite sad, so if your up for an emotional story, then this is a solid... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Shannon
4.0 out of 5 stars great
received the book in a timely manner and qreat quality. i received exactly what i ordered with no problems or hassels.
Published on Feb. 22 2012 by t
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book thus far
This book really tugs at the heartstrings! While I could most certainly identify with Tessa, I also found myself feeling for Valerie. Read more
Published on July 20 2011 by iLeelee
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart of the Matter
I love Emily Giffin and this book did not disappoint. I read it in 4 hrs cover to cover and can't wait for the next one.
Published on April 19 2011 by cdnmickeyfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Not What I expected
OK - I have to say - not what I expected at all. From reading the book flap I thought I was getting one of those heart-wrenching stories about dying children and heart transplants. Read more
Published on April 7 2011 by Dana
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard subject matter, thoughtfully written
This is the first book I've read by Emily Giffin, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of her writing. Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2010 by Annette - Edmonton
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Beach Read
I have read all of Emily Giffin's books. Something Borrowed was easily my favourite, and I think that is in part due to the fact that I have never really been able to see both... Read more
Published on May 24 2010 by Devon M. Wyatt
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