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Heart of the Matter (2010)

by Emily Giffin

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1,632758,682 (3.49)34
When plastic surgeon Nick Russo takes the case of a six-year-old burn victim, he becomes attracted to the boy's mother, Valerie. As his relationship with Valerie grows, Nick's marriage to Tessa, a well-educated professor turned housewife, starts to fall apart.
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» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Emily Giffin seems obsessed with infidelity in all of its facets, from the girl who stole her best friend’s fiancé (Something Borrowed) to the woman who flirts with rekindling a passionate love affair with an ex-boyfriend although she is happily married to a wonderful, though dull, man (Love the One You’re With) to a back and forth portrayal of two women betrayed by one man who supposedly loves them both (Heart of the Matter). Giffin may or may not be happily married in real life, but her understanding of infidelity seems to touch on all sides. Like Georgia O’Keefe and her fascination with flowers, Giffin’s fascination with infidelity keeps surfacing in her novels as if she is trying to write her way to understanding. Although Tessa seems real as a stay-at-home mother and Valerie seems real as a working single-parent, it is Nick Russo, the husband, who seems more complex than either of the women. Nick isn’t a typical no-good cheating husband, but he’s not a saint either. He prioritizes his work as a surgeon from which he obtains most of his self-esteem and he neglects his family, especially his children who do not even miss him when he and Tessa are separated. I am both intrigued and sickened by the sorry excuse of a husband who confesses more out of fear than out of his own truth, which would be his desire to leave his current life behind and start over with Valerie and Charles who view him as a heroic man who put back together the pieces of their lives. Nick’s affair with Valerie seems natural since he invests all of himself into his work, leaving nothing for his wife and children at home. His detachment from home and attachment to Valerie and Charles seemed “real” and his life with Tessa and the children did not. I think the ending may have been more satisfactory if Nick had left Tessa and the children or tried to juggle living two separate lives or frustrated Valerie with not leaving his family to create a new one with her. Nick’s struggle to reconcile his work persona with his home persona would have been more intriguing than the betrayed wife and victimized girlfriend routine. Since Giffin seems obsessed with infidelity, I would not be surprised to see this theme re-explored with new characters picking up where this book left off. ( )
  AngelaLam | Feb 8, 2022 |
When I started this book, I thought it would be another rich woman, seemingly perfect life, jerk of a husband kind of book. While it starts that way, the ending is good, and there is definitely food for thought. The message was a good one. A tragedy for a little boy changes the lives of people around him, and two women learn a lot about themselves in the process. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Jul 16, 2021 |
This book came out and the perfect time- on my last day of graduate school and I could not wait to get home and start Giffin's latest and she did not disappoint. While I'm still partial to Something borrowed/Blue and her last books set in Atlanta, this book has earned a place on my permanent shelf.
The story of an Affair from both sides is both riveting and elicits empathy and understanding about just how simple and yet heartbreaking infidelity is to all people involved. I was somewhat surprised by the ending and I won't spoil it, but overall this is an enjoyable read especially for fans of Giffin. ( )
  sunshine608 | Feb 2, 2021 |
I enjoyed this on audio (probably more than if I'd read it in print) because Cynthia Nixon (Miranda on Sex & the City)does an excellent job reading it. ( )
  ljohns | Jun 15, 2020 |
What a roller coaster ride. I thought this novel was well written but it really lacked depth. I wanted to know these characters but instead of really revealing the main character's layers Giffin introduced many throw away characters, in what appears to be an attempt to cover up the lack of real development. The story seems to be about forgiveness, but I left not knowing how Tessa or Valerie could ever forgive just that somehow they did.

The writing style kind of irritated me. Tessa's chapters are in first person and Valerie's are in third. Which I guess makes sense, since Valerie is the third person in the relationship. However, it really annoyed me almost to the point that I didn't want to keep reading.

I wouldn't read it again, but if you're bored and can't find anything else to read, go for it. ( )
  Emma_Manolis | Jun 27, 2017 |
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For Sarah, my sister and lifelong friend
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Whenever I hear of someone else's tragedy, I do not dwell on the accident or diagnosis, or even the initial shock waves or aftermath of grief.
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When plastic surgeon Nick Russo takes the case of a six-year-old burn victim, he becomes attracted to the boy's mother, Valerie. As his relationship with Valerie grows, Nick's marriage to Tessa, a well-educated professor turned housewife, starts to fall apart.

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