45 pages 1 hour read

Emily Giffin

Something Borrowed

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2005

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Summary and Study Guide


Something Borrowed is a work of romantic fiction from author Emily Giffin, published in 2004. It was a critical and commercial success, earning rave reviews and landing a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. The novel was Giffin’s first, and she has published several more books in the same genre. Some of her other books include Love the One You’re With (2008), Heart of the Matter (2010), Where We Belong (2012), and Something Blue (2005), which follows the story of Darcy Rhone—one of the main characters in Something Borrowed. In 2011, Something Borrowed was released as a film by Warner Bros.

Giffin began her career practicing litigation in Manhattan after attending the University of Virginia Law School. In her spare time, she started working on the manuscript for a novel. Although the novel was initially rejected, Giffin eventually retired from the legal profession and moved to London to pursue writing full time. It was there that she wrote Something Borrowed, which was published soon after its completion. Giffin currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and children and released her 11th novel in 2022.

Plot Summary

Something Borrowed follows protagonist Rachel White as she begins an affair with Dexter Thaler, the fiancé of her best friend, Darcy Rhone. Rachel begins the story plagued by insecurities on the eve of her 30th birthday. She’s failed to accomplish her life’s goals, which center on getting married and starting a family, as well as attaining a fulfilling career. She finds her job as an attorney at a Manhattan law firm unsatisfying, and envies Darcy’s glamorous job at a PR firm. Rachel feels tremendous jealousy towards Darcy, who not only has a fancy job, but is also planning her dream wedding to Dex. Rachel’s status as Darcy’s maid-of-honor serves as a reminder that she constantly lives in Darcy’s shadow.

However, when Dex and Rachel spend a drunken night together after Rachel’s 30th birthday celebration, her life begins to change dramatically. Rachel starts to realize the extent of her passivity and reflects on the subdued role she’s played in her previous relationships. Rachel wakes up to the fact that she’s not a risk taker, and has been happy to live life complacently, focused on pleasing others and doing what’s expected of her. While Rachel tries to ignore her drunken tryst with Dex in its immediate aftermath, their attraction to one another is undeniable. Rachel finds herself experiencing jealousy and longing when she travels to the Hamptons for Memorial Day weekend with Dex and Darcy, as well as their friends Hillary, Marcus, and Claire. As soon as they return home, Dex comes to Rachel’s apartment and they both admit they have real feelings for one another.

As Rachel and Dex spend more time together, developing a strong emotional and physical connection, Rachel’s friendship with Darcy starts to deteriorate. As Darcy delves into her wedding planning, Rachel finds aspects of her behavior intolerable. She begins to view Darcy as selfish, annoying, and rude, and has a difficult time feeling any remorse or guilt about betraying her best friend. Rachel slowly steps out of Darcy’s shadow and gains confidence in herself. She starts to recognize her own attractiveness and intelligence, as well as other positive traits. She develops her friendships with Ethan, her childhood friend and first crush, and Hillary, her coworker, confiding in them both about her tryst with Dex. She increasingly leans on them to provide a much-needed network of support as her friendship with Darcy collapses. She also goes on a few dates with Marcus, although their feelings never amount to much more than friendship.

Rachel’s growing confidence leads her to finally confront Dex about his wedding. Rachel was avoiding the conversation, failing to say anything during their planned discussion on the Fourth of July, when they spent the weekend together. She tries to remain convinced that Dex will choose her and call off his wedding, but as the wedding date approaches, she becomes less certain. Rachel finally finds her voice in the Hamptons a few weeks later, after Dex gets mad at her for telling Hillary about their affair. She decides he has no right to tell her what to do. She issues a final ultimatum—making it clear to Dex that its either her or Darcy.

When Dex comes over a few days later with the news that he’s chosen Darcy, Rachel maintains her composure and goes to London to visit Ethan. She realizes she truly loves Dex, but also knows she has gained the strength to accept that he’s marrying Darcy. As soon as Rachel comes home, she finds Dex at her apartment waiting for her. He tells her that he’s called off the wedding and professes his love for her. Rachel’s joy is temporarily cut short when Darcy arrives to tell Rachel that she’s betrayed Dex and is pregnant with Marcus’s baby. As she seeks comfort from Rachel, she spies Dex’s watch on Rachel’s nightstand. She goes on an angry rampage searching for Dex, finding him hiding half-naked in Rachel’s closet. Darcy storms out, making it clear she never wants to talk to either of them again. Rachel accepts the loss of her friendship with Darcy in the name of true love and looks forward to forging her future with Dex.

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By Emily Giffin