Tantalizer; The story opens with Rachel out on the town celebrating her thirtieth birthday with a group of friends; among them, her outgoing and popular best friend Darcy who actually threw the party (and is stealing the show already by dancing on the bar) and Darcy’s fiance Dex. Incidentally, Dex and Rachel had met years back in law school, having been friends for quite some time before Rachel eventually introduced him to Darcy. Towards the end of the evening after everyone’s departed and in what seems to be an open invite to coincidence, Darcy, after having had one too many drinks, makes an early departure in a cab ride to head back home. Thereby leaving Rachel and Dex alone in the bar to talk over a few more drinks, and steal some time together to catch up as old friends. They share a cab ride home, and, hitting a pothole that throws Rachel on Dex’s side of the car, literally and in his arms, opens the floodgates in what becomes an illicit love affair.
I was originally outraged at the very concept, but as the story develops, we learn a few things that seem to weave sympathy in Rachel’s favor. It’s told from Rachel’s point of view (the passive aggressive good girl who always tries to do the right thing and play by the rules). The very rules that, Rachel is now learning, doesn’t always get you ahead in today’s world. We discover that Rachel and Darcy have been friends since childhood. And that Rachel, deep down, resents Darcy. Soon, we come to see why: Darcy is the popular girl, with perfectly proportioned features of beauty that few can surpass. This pretty much allows her to have any guy wants, (or, ‘ahem’, steal any man she desires) and be the object that every woman wants to be friends with, every employer wants to hire. Basically, a life with the red carpet rolled out for her passage. With her combination of beauty, outgoing personality and favorable fortune, every opportunity falls in her lap. Rachel, meanwhile, is the ever so-reliable friend, working in a law firm that she despises. And who, despite her compounding resentment towards Darcy, strangely feels still protective of the friend she’s known (and looked out for like a sister) long since her early childhood. During the course of the story, we’re not only shown Darcy’s selfishness, but we also come to realize how unfulfilled Rachel is in her own life, exasperated even more as she measures herself against Darcy. Meanwhile, the affair between she and Dex thickens. With Rachel having the implicit understanding that what they have will end as the wedding date draws near in September, she begins to ask herself some very hard questions. Questions that deal with her claiming her own happiness, and the sacrifices she must make for it happen.
Impressions; Soon to be made into a movie with Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin, to be released in 2011, I can’t wait to see this brought to life on the big screen. I’ve been keeping an eye on the casting for the last several months, and am fairly pleased with how they rounded it out. Colin Egglesfield was chosen as Dex, running very similar to what I’d imagine him to look like.
One of the reasons why I love this story is that it gives the good girl a shot at happiness. It makes the circumstance work beautifully in her favor, allowing the mistakes and selfish behavior committed by Darcy to finally catch up with her. In no way am I here to condemn Darcy, or to condone what Rachel did, but Darcy was so self-absorbed, she behaved in a way that showed little regard for other people’s feelings. And it was interesting to see Karma work its magic in this unique tale. You just don’t always get to see scenarios play out this way in real life. Another psychological part at what worked in this story, I feel, is that it taps into almost a primal envy that so many people possess. Yes, Darcy was selfish, and her beauty seemed to give her the boldness to stake her claim on anything she wanted. Why not? It’s not like no one ever rejected her. Guys even dumped their girlfriends (one story depicted by Rachel) to be with her. But at one point, Rachel explains how, as they searched for Darcy’s wedding gown so many months back, they had such a difficult time finding the perfect dress. Why? Because Darcy, having the body of a runway model, looked good in EVERYTHING. No dress was off-limits for her. Enough to spark envy in any female friend.
Did I mention in my “About Me” page that I love books that are confessional? Well, this qualifies as one of them. In this first-person narration, it’s easy to relate to Rachel’s dilemma.