Friday, July 04, 2008

Decisions, Decisions: Fun Bohemian or Stepford Wife in Suburbia

Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin's first novel, Something Borrowed, is probably one of the best chick lit novels I've read. As a result, I keep reading her new books, even though her follow ups haven't been as good. For example, I really wasn't that into Baby Proof. I guess one thing I liked about Something Borrowed is that compared to other chick lit novels, the man was actually somewhat developed. It wasn't as if she just paired her protagonist off with anyone to end the novel as occasionally happens.

In Love the One You're With, recently married Ellen runs into her ex-boyfriend on the street. Of course, it's not just any boyfriend; it's the one great passion she had before her current spouse. Somehow, she gets sucked back into talking to him, and begins wondering about her own marriage.

I definitely understand the whole inability to let go, and the need to overanalyze everything. After almost a decade, though, it seems like Ellen would be able to let go of Leo. I can sort of see the attraction - he's a lot more interesting than Andy, her husband, and seems more passionate, intelligent and perhaps mysterious (although I think mysterious is definitely something to outgrow after a certain point, and is probably only attractive when you're not dating; I've never really done mysterious).

Honestly, I don't think eiher guy was right for her - Andy was rich, and understanding, and nice, and incredibly bland. If I were married to that guy, I probably would also be questioning my decisions when coming across the dark, bruting ex (it's like the difference between Angel and Riley on Buffy; Riley was boring and everyone hated him while Angel may have caused heartache but there was passion in the relationship).

Also, something about the portrayal of rich Atlanta society just bugged me - all these women who went to college but either quit their jobs to marry and have children, or didn't even get jobs to begin with. When they move to Atlanta, Ellen basically gives up her entire career and customer base and becomes a housewife. Very Stepford. She was probably in the wrong part of Atlanta since she sees her options as an exciting job in New York or portraits of children in Atlanta. In a way, the novel is very heteronormative; Ellen pities her older, unmarried sister, and as much as she cringes about the rich society of Atlanta, she also kind of wants the very traditional life style. What exactly is so wrong with never getting married? It's not like her sister wasn't in a happy relationship with a nice guy and alone and miserable. The book might show alternatives, but it doesn't paint them in a good light.

No comments: