FIRST COMES LOVE: Tragedy without Comedy

First Comes Love
First_Comes_Love_coverA Novel
By: Emily Giffin
Narrator: Catherine Taber & Emily Foster
PRHA/Random House Audio 

Genre: Fiction – Contemporary Women 

Unabridged Audio
Release Date: June 28, 2016 

12 Hours

audiofiles provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


A pair of sisters find themselves at a crossroads in this dazzling new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only. First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious, relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing, Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes, their delicate bond splinters.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter is assigned to her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover that they need each other more than they knew—and that in the search for true happiness, love always comes first.

My Take Oblong Shaped

I always think Giffin’s novels will be light-hearted but but actually, belied by their covers, the stories are often about two women, or a family, challenged by a tragic event.

This story begins with tragedy through the eyes of the mother to the two main characters. I was teary even as I read the prologue.  After the prologue, there is less sadness and more anger.

Aside from the mother — so important at the start — disappearing immediately, and the father not really appearing at all, this is a story about what cements family and what makes that cement crumble like ash. It’s about what happens when unbearable tragedy has to be borne.  The parents occasionally show up but not too much.

If you have ever had a fractious relationship with a sister, then you’ll understand the relationship between Josie and Meredith immediately.  I think that their relationship would be difficult with or without the tragic event that mars their lives.

But, in a particular feat of character development, Giffin doesn’t make one sister bad and the other good.  She really goes after the diverse equation that family members create with their individual personalities.  Josie is less conventional and less well-adjusted from the start; something made her difficult from the start.  Meredith is the good girl: went to law school, married, mother.  Josie longs for motherhood, while Meredith longs for some time off from her family.

It’s also interesting that Josie’s daughter is much like her sister, and the two get along really well.

Each loves, and is loved, in their own way.

The tragedy at the beginning of the book goes on to shape the characters and their family dynamics, probably forever.

Meredith’s character is always ready to take umbrage at anything. And when she learns of a lie by omission she goes off the rails.  Josie, and Meredith’s husband share a secret Josie doesn’t even know about, although it is quietly telegraphed to the reader. 

This book gave me a lot to think about in regards to family, siblings and realtionship. The audio is well produced and performed with each woman’s voice nailing the most important parts of the performance.   Josie sounds sassy and irreverent, and Meredith sounds stuck up and passive aggressive.

I highly recommend FIRST COMES LOVE for what it can show us about our families and ourselves.


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