By Emily Giffin
St. Martin's; 328 PAGES; $21.95
Forget Bergdorf Blondes. The chick lit you want in your beach bag this year is Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed. On the night of her thirtieth birthday, good girl Rachel ends up in bed with handsome Dex, the fiancée of her best friend Darcy. But what ensues is not as predictable as you might think. Rachel is a smart, successful, self-doubter, who, having fallen off the Goody Two Shoes path for the first time in her life, doesn't quite know what to do. Dex, as it turns out, is a pretty honorable guy. And Darcy, the kind of girl who gets everything she wants, isn't exactly the best of friends.
The story of a nice girl like Rachel, who only wants "a job that I like and a guy whom I love," may appear to be the very definition of the chick lit genre, but something borrowed is not the self-parody that many such books have become, where a closet full of Jimmy Choos is meant to establish the setting and a heroine named Moi supplies the mood. For one thing, Giffin's debut novel isn't written like a film treatment as so many of these books are. It's smarter, less arch and more believable. The characters are authentic and thus familiar – you probably know someone like Darcy or Rachel or Dex. Best of all, something borrowed captures what it's like to be thirty and single in the city, when your life pretty much revolves around friendships and love and their attendant complexities, rivalries, and hoped-for happily-ever-afters.