– 2018/117 – 48 years of books (1983)

‘Heartburn’ by Nora Ephron.

Two things, actually no, three things made me buy this book.  Reason non 1: the cover… I know, I know, the old adagio still stand, don’t judge a book by its cover… but sometimes I do, we all do.  We judge people and fruit and shoes by the way they look, it’s normal, it’s the first thing we see right? we got to start from somewhere, right?  The main thing is that the final opinion is not based on looks.  That’s the important part.  So people might look awful and be awful or wonderful, an apple might look perfect and be tasteless or the sweetest thing you’ve ever eaten and so on…

This is a reprint par to the 40th anniversary of Virago Modern Classic Series.  They’re all gorgeous.

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A book it’s the same.  I read a lot of second hand books and don’t have a problem with that, but the pleasure you get from picking up a new book the cover of which has called your name from across the bookstore?   priceless.

Reason no 2: Nora Ephron.  She was an American writer, journalist and filmmaker who sadly died from complications brought on by her leukaemia in 2012.  She was behind some of my favourite movie like ‘When Harry Met Sally’ and ‘Sleepless in Seattle’…

Reason no 3: very prosaically it was written in 1983 and I needed a book written in 1983 to continue in my 48 years of books quest.

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In 1979, Ephron had a toddler son, Jacob, and was pregnant with her second son Max when she discovered her then husband the journalist Carl Bernstein’s affair with a mutual friend, the married British politician Margaret Jay. Ephron was inspired by this to write this novel, which was subsequently made into a 1986 film starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.  A very good movie by the way.  Probably for once, better than the book!

It’s a sad story but written with such humour… and then you stop yourself from laughing because actually it really is achingly painful and sad.  It’s short and doesn’t get very deep, it reads more like a personal memoir, a cathartic experience for the writer than an in-depth analyses of the breakdown of a marriage, of betrayal, of friendships etc.

‘I think I was so entranced with being a couple that I didn’t even notice that the person I though I was a couple with thought he was a couple with someone else.’

I enjoyed it, it’s a quick read, it’s funny and poignant… but it’s not novel prize material, if you know what I mean.  So yes, if you want a light read, read it, it flows smoothly, she’s wry and cynical but never bitter…

Just know what to expect.  Or watch the movie… the movie is great.

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