Love the One You’re With
Emily Giffin

St. Martin's Press
Hardcover/342 pages
ISBN: 0-312-34867-3
  Love the One You’re With : A modern yuppie romance.


Newlywed Ellen bumps into Leo, her old boyfriend, on a New York city street on a rainy day. Stunned, she goes to a nearby coffee shop to gather herself. Leo calls her cell phone and shows up a few moments later. They have coffee, and she tells him she’s married. He touches her hand and leaves, but Leo doesn’t leave Ellen’s thoughts, not even when she’s with her husband Andy, the man she loves and adores, the man she married.

Leo contacts Ellen again with a career-making offer to photograph a celebrity in Los Angeles. Ellen’s sister Suzanne goes with her because Suzanne is a fan, and she ends up acting as chaperone. Leo writes an article about the celebrity, and Ellen takes the pictures. Ellen leaves feeling as though she has dodged a bullet until Leo shows up on the plane sitting next to her. They talk and fall asleep holding hands, waking the next morning and say goodbye once again, this time on Leo’s doorstep. Ellen doesn’t plan to see him again, but Leo has other plans. So does Andy.

Andy quits his job at a high-powered law firm in New York and wants to move back to Atlanta to be near his family and partner in his father’s law practice. Ellen reluctantly agrees. She’s rich and her handsome husband loves her, but nothing feels right. She misses the electric excitement of New York and her career – and she misses Leo. Did she make a mistake marrying Andy, moving to Atlanta, giving up her career and not giving Leo another chance?

Not everyone obtains the dream – handsome husband, big house, country club, loving family, wealth – but Emily Giffin makes it seem possible in Love the One You’re With. Ellen, Leo and Andy are well ensconced in lucrative careers. The men are handsome, and the women are beautiful. Everyone, except for Suzanne, is rich and not all that attainable for the average Joe or Jane. Despite these fantasies, Giffin’s tale of exploring the road not taken has much to commend it.

The emotions resonate clearly, and the situation, although a little out of the average woman’s reach, is basic. What do you do when you find out your best friend kept you from reuniting with the man you loved? Even in the rarefied atmosphere of country clubs and jaunts across the country to photograph celebrities for feature articles, it comes down to the basics – relationships – and this is something Giffin portrays with a lack of guile and plenty of heart. Giffin’s prose is clean and uncluttered, and the characters eminently authentic. Only one plot point seemed a bit contrived – a phone call at a crucial moment – but the rest of the story is one that anyone caught between the present and the past can relate to.

Love the One You’re With is a story that goes straight to the heart of what it means to love and be loved and how to find a way to live with difficult choices.

Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell