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First Comes Love

 

By:  Emily Giffin 

ISBN:  9780345546920

Publisher:  Random House 

Publication Date:  6/28/2016 

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars

In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
 
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
 
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired. 
 
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.
 
Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

 

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My Review

 

A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Talented Emily Giffin returns following (2014) The One and Only with another gripping tale FIRST COMES LOVE --the powerful bonds of family, and at the heart, being true to yourself. When you live for others, one day the bitterness will surface, and rear its ugly head. 

An avid fan of Giffin (having read all her books, starting with her first to the latest), of sisters, marriage, motherhood, family, sibling struggles and challenges. From love, loss, forgiveness, and finding the courage to move on. People leave, disappoint, and die; however, love stands strong.

The day after Daniel’s twenty-fifth birthday and three days before Christmas. He was halfway through his third year of medical school at Yale and had just returned home to Atlanta, for the holidays bringing with him his girlfriend, Sophie, a beautiful upper crust Brit whom Daniel once called the most charming woman he had ever met. The two had been dating for more than a year; however, this was her first visit to Atlanta, as well as meeting his parents and sisters.

Daniel was the golden child. The firstborn. The older brother. A perfectionist. Sensitive and sentimental, quirky and kind. A tragic accident. A sliding on a patch of ice at the intersection of Moores Mill and Northside Drive, (Atlanta) less than two miles from their home. A truck hit his car at the corner. 

Where was he going the night of the accident which took his life? Out for a burger, or more? Everyone has guilt. An accident which rocked their family, and indirectly caused their parents to divorce. The devastating aftermath. 

They discovered years later there was more to the story the night Daniel died. More than one memory from Five Paces Buckhead (been there many times). That night changed all their lives in ways they had never imagined. 

Now fifteen years later the guilt and regrets begin to surface for the entire family. The what ifs. Choices made, their pain never ceased. Still reeling, regretting, wondering, what if. A family torn apart. 

If Daniel had lived, he would have been saving lives, practicing medicine, happily married to Sophie, father of two or three children, turning forty. He understood nothing was as important as family. Love comes first. Everyone had pictured perfection in his future, now shattered. 

Elaine and Rob (attorney) parents, residing in Atlanta. A broken marriage since the death of their son. A dad who started drinking. Two broken remaining sisters – total opposites. They never got along before their brother’s death, and now it seems the tension is exacerbated. 

The mother is planning a 15 year anniversary in memory of Daniel. Something which occurred in the past. Good or bad, a date to remember. Tensions are high. Stirring up old emotions. Will they invite their father, who has a new girlfriend, Marcia. She wants to include Sophie. The woman they have not seen since Daniel’s death. Closure. What is her life now? Did she move on? 

Alternating voices, readers hear from both sisters. They both despise one another. Keeping Secrets. 

Meredith, a lawyer, in Atlanta married to Daniel’s childhood best friend, Nolan for almost seven years. Mother to daughter, Harper. She was hardworking and diligent, and more of a loner. She is very unhappy. An introvert. She loved arts. She wanted to stay in New York. She is judgmental and miserable. 

She thinks her Josie, sister is self-centered and a drama queen. She loves her daughter, Harper; however, she is really not all that maternal. Nolan is a constant source of both comfort and sadness to her dad. What really drew the couple together in the beginning? 

“Grief is a mystery to be lived through, not a problem to be solved.”

Meredith feels she is the child who has not screwed up. The strong one. She is even unsure of her marriage and how they were thrown together due to the death of her brother. Nolan was her brother’s best friend. A fixture in the family. Love? Now she is second guessing her entire life. What about her plays, Broadway, the theater? Lost dreams. She is bitter. She put her plans on hold. 

She kept thinking Will and Josie would get married and have the grandchildren. She could follow her heart. But it did not happen. She had married Nolan, the family business in Atlanta. Her future turned into what she had imaged for her sister. No New York. 

Was she really selfless and noble putting her parents first, or was she spineless? She had been determined to be their parent’s stable- the successful child; the salve, on their still open wounds. She wanted their family to be normal again. 

Classic Josie, calling shots, making demands, creating drama. Why couldn’t she be happy for her sister wanting to have a baby, even though in a nontraditional way?

 

Josephine (Josie) is a first grade teacher in Atlanta, and grad of University of Georgia--wants more than anything to be a mother. She is more free-spirited. At age 37 she has no prospects for marriage or even dating, so she is seriously thinking of going the donor route. She is now going through profiles to pick the perfect one. She also has a roommate hipster, Gabe (they are best friends) and a big support for her. They click. It is time for a new school year. New children. Excitement. Fourteen years of teaching, she loves it. She is fun, energetic, and creative. She thinks her sister is uptight and judgmental. 

To make matters more stressful, her old boyfriend and the man she was to marry, Will’s daughter is in her class at school. He is married to the perfect wife, the perfect daughter and younger son. Edie Carlisle, the firstborn of her most significant ex, Will Carlisle. They broke up eight years ago (long story behind this), and she is still not over him, completely. He shattered her world. He dumped her right before he married Andrea. The woman she has stalked. She hated herself for being mesmerized with her every move and shame at the same time. 

Now she has to see the perfect family and the daughter every day; as a reminder of what she could have had. However, she likes the little girl. Now, Mrs. Will Carlisle volunteers to be room mom. Why does she have to be so nice? 

From Match.com to a physical therapist named Pete, sperm donor decisions, and a strong desire to be a mom, Josie carefully makes decisions. Shop. Look. Research. Instead of her being the flighty one there is a role reversal, when Meredith starts second guessing herself, her life, marriage and career. 

A drunken night so long ago. Survivor’s guilt. Everything had come back to Daniel. The fairy tale life. Especially in the South. People fake things so much. Put on a happy face and show off your perfect life. (so true). Josie was definitely a better communicator than her sister Meredith. 

Giffin once again gets to the heart of the matter. I love the way my top three chick lit authors, Emily Giffin, Sarah Pekkanen, and Jennifer Weiner have taken readers from women in their 20s, 30s, and now 40s. From single, dating, to marriage, divorce, motherhood, siblings, and family. 

And best of all, LOVE the Atlanta familiar settings! Where I spent my most memorable 30s, 40s, 50s—(happily divorced) with most of my friends in late their twenties and early thirties. Having lived in Vinings, Buckhead and Midtown, over the years and working in the media business, I have been to every restaurant and bar, from Bistro Nikos to Five Paces, mentioned in the book. 

On a personal note: 
I have to say, Blue Ridge Grill is my favorite, (near my house) there have been many gals night out, dates, and good times on the sunporch (my favorite spot), solving all our problems over appetizers, cocktails, and great company. Plus plenty of late nights and wee hours of the morning having breakfast atOK Café, across the street after a night out on the town. 

I also love Blackberry Farm (TN) where I have had the pleasure of many scrumptious weekends. If you have never been there, a rare treat! All these spots bring back my Atlanta memories. I was laughing so hard about Johnny’s Hideaway. None of us would be caught dead in the place, back in my Atlanta days---I had to pick up a friend there one night and could not wait to get out. Definitely a meat market for the "over the hill" gang—Cheesy; and I do mean old with lots of spandex. Giffin described it perfectly. 

A great read, mixed with wit and emotion! Gabe was my favorite character. Sometimes it takes, someone outside the family to see things clearly- the glue. 

"When you are being true to yourself, you are completely honest with what you feel, deeply value, and desire. It also means communicating your feelings wholeheartedly both with yourself and others, allowing your truth to flow through you and into the world." A wise lesson for all! 

 

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Praise for Emily Giffin
 
“Emily Giffin ranks as a grand master. . . . She has traversed the slippery slopes of true love, lost love, marriage, motherhood, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption that have led her to be called ‘a modern-day Jane Austen.’ ”—Chicago Sun-Times
 
“A dependably down-to-earth, girlfriendly storyteller.”—The New York Times
 
“Giffin’s talent lies in taking relatable situations and injecting enough wit and suspense to make them feel fresh.”—People
 
“Emily Giffin is the creator of characters so real and so enthrallingly flawed that people sometimes forget they are fictional.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 
“When it comes to writing stories that resonate with real women, bestselling author Emily Giffin has hit her stride.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Giffin knows a thing or two about writing a page turner.”—Southern Living
 
“Giffin’s writing is true, smart, and heartfelt.”—Entertainment Weekly

 

 

About the Author

 

 

Emily Giffin, a Chicago native, graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After law school, she moved to Manhattan and practiced litigation at a large firm for several years while she paid back her school loans, wrote a novel in her very limited spare time, and dreamed of becoming a writer. 

 

Despite the rejection of her first manuscript, Giffin persisted, retiring from the legal profession and moving to London to pursue her dreams full time. It was there that she began writing Something Borrowed (2004), a story of a young woman who, upon turning thirty, finally learned to take a risk and follow her heart. One year later, Giffin’s own gamble paid off, as she completed her manuscript, landed an agent and signed a two-book deal on both sides of the Atlantic. The following summer, Something Borrowed, hailed as a “heartbreakingly honest debut” with “dead-on dialogue, real-life complexity and genuine warmth,” became a surprise sensation, and Giffin vowed never to practice law again.

 

Dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” (Vanity Fair) and a “dependably down-to-earth storyteller” (New York Times), Giffin has since penned six more New York Times bestsellers, Something Blue (2005), Baby Proof (2006), Love the One You’re With (2008), Heart of the Matter (2010), Where We Belong (2012) and The One & Only (2014). Her seven novels, all filled with endearingly flawed characters and emotional complexity, have resonated deeply with both critics and readers around the world, achieving bestseller status in a number of countries, including the United States (#1), Canada (#1), United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Poland (#1). The books have been translated into thirty-one languages, with over eleven million copies sold worldwide. In addition, five of her novels have been optioned for the big screen and are in various stages of development. The first, Something Borrowed, hit theaters in May 2011, starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski.

 

Giffin now resides with her husband and three young children in Atlanta. Her eighth novel, First Comes Love, will be released on June 28, 2016.  Read More 

 

 

 

 

 

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