Back in 2011, I attended the Conference on the Constitutional Convention at HLS. (Constitutional Conventions are all the rage these days.) During one of the meet-and-greets, someone asked me where I lived. “Boston area,” I replied.
“Where?” the man queried.
“Oh, the suburbs,” said I.
“I used to live in Wellesley, too,” says the man.
If you don’t understand why this is hilarious, you are probably also the type who would have read Emily Giffin’s Heart of the Matter and not understood why it was hilarious, too. Once I saw “suburbs of Boston” in the synopsis, I picked up the book and skimmed it until I saw the words “Cliff Road” and “Albion,” then proceeded to check the book out of the library and spend an evening sipping cocoa and cracking up.
The humour was lost on many of the Goodreads reviewers. For as much as the book was about two women who loved the same man, it was also about neurotic, pretentious Wellesley. That book is not merely set in Wellesley the way that a play is set among a painted wooden backdrop on a stage; it claims the souls of Swellesleyites for its own. The only thing missing was a capitalist power breakfast at the Maugus, but that would have required one of the two main characters to actually have something to power breakfast about.
I thoroughly dislike books and movies that involve otherwise strong women simpering over some dude who isn’t worth their time. (Dagny and Lillian in a similar situation with Hank Rearden? Completely understandable. Not so much for whats-his-name, the love interest here.) Heart of the Matter‘s sole redeeming quality is its fantastically accurate descriptions of my townsmen, turning chick lit into modern satire.