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Heart of the Matter    by Emily Giffin order for
Heart of the Matter
by Emily Giffin
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Tessa and Valerie both live in the same Boston suburb, but lead very different lives. Valerie is a single mother to six year old Charlie. Her relationship with Charlie's father turned bad and he never stayed to see his son. Valerie worked hard to put herself through law school. She has provided Charlie with a good life, but has given up on finding true love. After accomplishing so much, Valerie feels she does not fit in with the other women in the neighbourhood.

Tessa is married to a successful surgeon, Nick Russo. They have a stately home, two beautiful children, family, and good friends. Her life appears perfect. She quit her teaching position to be a stay at home mom and become involved in school activities. Lately Tessa has feelings of dissatisfaction and is left wondering if she made the right decision.

The lives of Tessa and Valerie come together after Charlie suffers burns at a sleepover he attended with friends. Charlie is rushed to emergency the night Tessa and Nick are celebrating their anniversary. Nick returns to the hospital where he treats Charlie and assures Valerie he will do his utmost for her son. In the following weeks, Charlie goes through several painful surgeries, skin grafting, and therapy. Valerie and Nick spend time together and Valerie sees the way Nick cares for her son. She is attracted to him even though she knows his wife and children are waiting for him at home.

As Nick is drawn closer to Valerie and Charlie, Tessa feels his absence in their marriage. Although he spends many hours at the hospital, Tessa feels an indifference in his attitude to her and the children. When Nick oversteps the boundaries of their marriage Tessa finds clues to his infidelity, and must confront the biggest decision of her life. Tessa understands that good people make bad choices, and shouldn't everyone get a second chance?

Heart of the Matter explores the hearts of two women and what matters most. It is told in the alternating voices of Tessa and Valerie and takes an emotional inside look at both the wife and the other woman.

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