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by Emily Giffin

Pub Date: May 13th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-312-34867-0
Publisher: St. Martin's

A newlywed must choose between her reliable, handsome and wealthy Atlanta husband and her charismatic, handsome but unpredictable ex, whom she left behind in Manhattan.

What’s a girl to do? Giffin (Baby Proof, 2006, etc.) specializes in this kind of dilemma, featuring a young woman torn between good-cop and bad-cop lovers. In her latest outing, 30-something Ellen, a successful freelance Manhattan photographer, has just married Andy Graham, brother of her college friend Margot. Margot has married and moved back to her wealthy family’s home ground, Atlanta, and Andy, a Wall Street lawyer, yearns to simplify his life, buy a sprawling suburban home and go into practice with Dad. Ellen chances to glimpse her ex-boyfriend, Leo, a journalist, on a New York street. She thought, wrongly, that her troubled memories of their intense, yearlong affair had abated. Ellen resists Leo’s “just friendship” overtures, until he sets her up on an L.A. shoot with a fabulous rock star. Ellen finds herself again in emotional thrall to Leo, especially after they hold hands throughout the red-eye flight home. Guiltily, she doesn’t mention Leo around Andy or Margot. In her cushy Atlanta exile, Ellen’s domestic disquiet is palpable: A product of blue-collar Pittsburgh, she feels smothered by the too-patrician, too-generous, too-Southern Grahams but also relishes belonging to a family. (She’s been motherless since she was a teen.) After a quarrel with Andy, Ellen turns again to Leo. Despite a competent depiction of Ellen’s social dislocation, the supposed Andy vs. Leo contest is a no-brainer. Bad-cop Leo is still the flake Ellen dumped with good reason and good-cop Andy is still the mensch she very wisely married.