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BOOK CLUB: Did Margot do the right thing?


Closer to the end of the book, the readers (as well as Ellen) find out that Leo came back for Ellen about a year after they broke up. Ellen was out of the house, so Margot was supposed to relay on the information. However, she purposely did not tell Ellen. When Ellen confronted her (years later), Margot's reasons were that it was an unhealthy relationship that was going to fail again plus she was already moving on with Andy.

I'm not sure what to think of Margot. On one hand, she's extremely loyal friend who I would love to have. But on the other hand, she seems to think she knows best and gives little room to make your own choices. I understand that she didn't tell Ellen because she knew how Leo was, but I still think she should have let her know. Make Ellen decide herself. I personally would want to know -- it would kill me to find out later on and think "woulda coulda shoulda".

Do you think Margot should have told Ellen? Was she being loyal or did she have ulterior (i.e. looking out for her brother)?

Jul 21, 2009 @ 09:59 pm

17 Replies


Not her place

Margot should have told Ellen. Whether or not Margot thought this relationship was healthy had absolutely nothing to do with her. If the circumstances were different, i.e. Ellen was in an abusive relationship with Leo, then that would be the only time that she would have reason to hide this.

I found this to be somewhat selfish of Margot; it were as if she were trying to look out more for her brother than her best friend. I also felt like Giffin was alluding to this earlier in the book. We know from Ellen's point of view, that Margot always had a way of getting what she wanted.

Many times throughout the book, I felt a little frustrated with Ellen for not standing up for herself. It was almost like Margot had little respect for how Ellen felt about the whole relationship. And Ellen allowed that.

On the other hand, I felt like her sister Suzanne was a way better best friend to her than Margot was.
Jul 21, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

I agree!

I agree with Artist! I felt that Suzanne was a much better friend than Margot also! Ellen and Suzanne's exchanges reminds me of the relationship I have with my own sister. We talk almost everyday via email, about everything. I bitch about the guy I'm dating; she tries to give me advice and offers her own opinion (whether requested or not!).

Suzanne was often blunt and straightforward with her comments, but in Ellen's state, that's what she needed! Someone completely separate from the issues to give her perspective. Margot was not only Ellen's best friend, but also Andy's sister. It was wrong of her, as Ellen's best friend, not to mention Leo returning to see her. Best intentions or not, Margot should have talked to Ellen about it. Leo returned two years after the break up and Andy was in the picture, so Margot had plenty of ammunition to down-play the significance and impact of Leo's visit. Ellen had a right to know.

Perhaps, just the knowledge that Leo missed her and came to see her would have let her move on with her life. At that time Ellen was starting a new and exciting relationship with Andy. Leo's appearance at that point may have seemed much less significant than when it happened years later, while Ellen was going through big life changes!

Jul 22, 2009 @ 11:35 am

Margo was being loyal

I'm going to play devil's advocate and offer an alternate opinion here.

A good friend watches your back and that's what Margo believed she was doing with Leo. There was a strong chance Ellen would have gone back to Leo, ruined her chances with Andy and ended up unhappy and on an emotional roller coaster had Margo not told Leo to bugger off.

Leo makes Ellen vulnerable - to the point where she was willing to risk a good marriage years later - and she had made unwise and unbalanced choices when she was with Leo. To assume that had she known all those years ago she would have told Leo, no thanks and just used the situation to heal and move on is denying the effect he had on her. I think she would have foolishly gone back to him and Andy would've been out of the picture.

In the end, Margo was right that Ellen belonged with Andy not Leo, wasn't she? Could it be argued that the means here justify the end?

Besides, if Leo really wanted her back so badly he could have called her on the same cell phone he tracked her down with years later. He didn't try very hard, did he?

Wouldn't you try to protect your best friend from an unwise situation?

I suspect that if Margo had told Ellen in the first place, Ellen would have dumped Andy, gone back to Leo for a much bleaker future.
Jul 22, 2009 @ 02:46 pm

Good points, Anon!

Ellen seems like a fragile person at times and is always on the defensive side. I think she's almost too dependent on Margot.. I'm sure everyone agrees that Margot was looking out for Ellen, but I can't help wonder if she would have done the same if her brother wasn't involved. Her personality is tricky to me; she can be trusting while also critical of your actions. If I were in Ellen's position, I would definitely want to know about Leo and make my decision thereafter. However, I think I'm more level headed than Ellen which is why I would (or try to) make some rational decisions before calling Leo back.
Jul 22, 2009 @ 10:44 pm


She should have definitely told ellen so that ellen could make her own decision.She wasn't looking after ellen's best interest ,but after Andy's.I think that if ellen were dating anyone other than andy,margot would have told her.
Jul 22, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

She shouldn't have gotten involved!

I totally agree with you girls, Margot was looking out primarily for Andy (and in a way herself and her family) instead of for Ellen. She was looking out for Ellen by not relaying the information because she believed that Andy was better for her than Leo but it should not be her call. I don't think that its ever right to meddle in anyones realtionship (even if it is your very best friend). Giving advice is one thing but making decisions on their part is not acceptable. I too wonder whether or not Margot would have acted this way if Ellen's new beau had not been her brother. I suppose in a way this would be the the true test of her loyalty -- if Ellen was dating another guy and Margot had still turned Leo away then we would know that her true motivation have been to protect Ellen's best interests.

Also anon you make a very good point -- if Leo truly wanted Ellen back he didn't try very hard did he? I mean, what does the phone not work? What about e-mail? I suppose the most romantic thing to have done would be to show up on her doorstep but still, I think the fact that he was not at all persistent shows his true character (not to mention his commitment to Ellen).
Jul 24, 2009 @ 03:59 pm


When you're born into a life of privelege, the world looks different than it does for a family with a low-to-middle range income. This isn't a bias, but merely a product of our surroundings and influences. That said, I can completely understand Margot's moment of "playing God"...denying Ellen the knowledge that Leo dropped in two years after they had parted ways. It wasn't her decision to make, but from Ellen's first interactions with her and her entire family, it's clear that there was absolutely zero malicious intent. By the end of the book, Margot clearly understands what was wrong with her decision, and the fact that Ellen offers forgiveness and they retain their close bonds speaks loudly for their regard for each other. The experience with Leo, post-drop-in, although very difficult for Ellen to cope with at the time, seemed to inspire true growth from within herself. It also became an outlet for her true emotions regarding Andy, the move, and the new lifestyle..bringing about change and compromise that may otherwise never have happened.

Jul 24, 2009 @ 08:41 pm


Jul 24, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

i agree

I completely agree with what most of you said, Margot had absolutely no right to not tell Ellen about Leo coming back.

I can see the situation from Margot's point of view, she wanted to protect her friend from making a bad decision. Ellen was always so emotional over Leo, she lost her usual level headedness when it came to him, to the extent of putting her marriage into jeopordy, so perhaps if Margot had told her, then Ellen would have dumped Andy and gone back with Leo. Then again, if she had done that, maybe she would have been happy with him...who knows? Or, Leo might have grown old of the novelty of having Ellen back and gone back to his usual self and she would have been obsessed and miserable... Or maybe Ellen would have had the closure she needed to move on as true free agent with Andy. Either way it was her choice to make and Margot, regardless of her good intentions, had no right to interfere and take that choice away form her.

I was actually thinking along the same line as most of you; did Margot really look out for Ellen as her BFF or was she really looking out for her brother when she did what she did? I really don't know.

Ok now to take a completely oposite spin on this:
Have you guys ever been in such a situation where your emotions were stirred to the point where you did something that you wouldn't have done were you rational at the time, and later in restrospect you wished that someone had locked you in a room and took away your cellphone so you didn't impulsively cause such damage to your life? For example, say you have an ex, who you think you've moved on from (like Leo), and later something happens to stir things up again (e.g. like Leo coming back), and at the heat of the moment you do something passionately stupid (like jepordize your marriage, or your future marriage)... and that passionately stupid thing seems perfectly rational at the time, but in hindsight you wish you hadn't called / emailed / met him because that just messed you up more..

Perhaps Margot did just that for Ellen. Sometimes when we're in a situation, we don't realize whats good or bad for us, and we need someone who truly wants the best for us, to lock us in a room and take away our cell (or just not mention that Leo dropped by). Its true that its completely Ellen's decision to make, however perhaps Margot did this because she knew that rational Ellen wouldn't be able to make the decision, her passionately stupid side will make the decision, and really thats not making the right decision at all is it?

But on a personal level, i would hate for someone to keep something like that from me!!!

Jul 25, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

I would do what Margot did in a heartbeat...

what would you do if you were Margot? You say it's wrong to meddle in other people's lives and relationships but we all do it. We all try to help our friends and family. We give advice (probably not always the best advice either) and we all dip our toes in and push our friend into what we feel is right.

Ellen is an adult and of course she has the right to make her own decisions but as the friend who watched her friend fall to pieces in front of her. Who put her boyfriend ahead of her life. Who took so long to get over a relationship where she often felt low. Does that sound like someone who doesn't need a little push in the right direction?

Margot could finally see that the best friend she grew to love in Ellen was a much stronger, happier and stable person with Andy. If I was Margot I would have done the same thing and I wouldn't have any regrets. It's not because she is selfish but it is because she truly felt it was the right thing to do. And that's how you learn and grow and become and adult. You do things for the better of everyone you love.
Jul 26, 2009 @ 05:41 pm

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