Meant to Be: A Novel by Emily Giffin

The BookWalker Editor's Choice

“Meant To Be is the most golden, heart-crunching, epic love story, which swept me away into another time and another world.”—Sophie Kinsella


The BookWalker Emily Giffin Meant To Be

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“A dependably down-to-earth, girlfriendly storyteller.”—The New York Times

What’s the story about?

You’re likely familiar with the real-life tragedy: JFK, Jr., along with his wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister-in-law Lauren, met their untimely end in a plane crash, with JFK, Jr. himself at the controls.  This incident left the author, Emily Giffin, in deep distress, leading her to ponder the uncharted course their lives might have taken had they emerged from that fateful event alive.

Meant To Be by Emily Giffin is the fictional version of what-could-have-been, the love story between JFK Jr. and Carolyn.

In the shadow of American royalty, two lives converge against all odds.  

The Kingsley family’s legacy of heroism and elegance casts a daunting shadow, especially on Joseph S. Kingsley III, heir to a lineage of political power and military honor.  Yet Joe III’s carefree spirit clashes with the weight of his inheritance, fueling a struggle to meet his nation’s expectations and the exacting demands of his formidable mother, Dottie.  Giffin’s deft prose paints a vivid portrait of the Kingsley family’s allure, blending their military valor, political prominence, and timeless elegance. Through the lens of Joseph S. Kingsley III, readers witness the inner turmoil of a free spirit tethered to the weight of heritage.  The author masterfully contrasts his struggle against the backdrop of his mother’s exacting standards, creating a deeply relatable portrayal of generational expectations.

On a parallel journey,  no one ever expected anything of Cate Cooper.  She, too, grew up fatherless—and after her mother marries an abusive man, she is forced to fend for herself.  After being discovered by a model scout at age sixteen, Cate decides that her looks may be her only ticket out of the cycle of disappointment that her mother has always inhabited.   Before too long, Cate’s face is in magazines and on billboards.  Yet she feels like a fraud, faking it in a world to which she’s never truly belonged.  Giffin’s portrayal of Cate’s journey from adversity to becoming a sought-after model is both heartrending and empowering. The exploration of Cate’s internal conflict—her battle with impostor syndrome amidst dazzling success—adds layers of authenticity to her character.

Fate orchestrates a chance meeting between Joe and Cate, igniting an instant, electric connection. But as their hearts tangle, can they withstand the unrelenting spotlight and the legendary Kingsley curse?  In a tale that weaves through a golden era of American history, Emily Giffin crafts a poignant narrative of two souls questing for identity and belonging.  As their bond blossoms, the author navigates the complexities of love under scrutiny, adeptly portraying the struggles of passion besieged by public scrutiny and an age-old family curse.

Giffin’s narrative prowess shines as she crafts an evocative exploration of identity and belonging. The vivid backdrop of an opulent era in American history enriches the story, enveloping readers in a gilded atmosphere. 

Are certain love stories meant to be? Giffin poses this question at the heart of the tale, and her expert storytelling keeps readers engaged until the final page. Meant To Be is a triumph—a compelling fusion of history, emotion, and romance that reminds us that, even amidst the most extraordinary circumstances, the journey to self-discovery and love remains enduringly human.


“I’m a sucker for an iconic, against-all-odds love story, and Meant to Be truly delivers.”—Tia Williams, author of Seven Days in June.

“A chic, history-inspired summer read [that] strikes a careful balance between simply retelling the true story of JFK Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and crafting an entirely new one.”—Bookreporter.

Meant To Be is the most golden, heart-crunching, epic love story, which swept me away into another time and another world.”—Sophie Kinsella.  

The BookWalker Expert Advice Emily Giffin




Emily Giffin is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. After practicing litigation at a Manhattan firm for several years, she moved to London to write full time. The author of seven New York Times bestselling novels, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love The One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, Where We Belong, and The One & Only, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and three young children.

I’m a sucker for an iconic, against-all-odds love story, and Meant to Be truly delivers.— Tia Williams, author of Seven Days in June

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