Heartburn – Nora Ephron


Is this Chicklit?  Maybe! I chose a cover that says it is.  It might be a bit more serious, but certainly I’d say the primary audience was female.

Nora Ephron wrote screen plays – When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, but this is more downbeat than those – less sentimental with no Hollywood ending or feel-good factor.  In her introduction Ephron says that there are autobiographical elements in this novel, and it does feel more like real life than either of the movies.  (This too was made into a film – starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep.)

Heartburn is a story of marital infidelity and divorce, a story of unhappiness.  The protagonist, Rachel, is a TV cook and minor celebrity, and recipes are introduced at various points in the novel, apparently as an afterthought but in truth an opportunity to make some relevant comment – about her mother’s apathy and ineffectiveness when dealing with infidelity and offering support, or the way that fashionable food accompanies cool people, the groups they form and their transience.

This is a story of heartbreak in which the husband is shallow and the love rival, Thelma,  tall, cold and unfeeling.  The plot opens when Rachel discovers a book hidden by her husband and dedicated by Thelma to him and the baby Rachel is carrying, claiming that one day they will be able to read it to him together!!  We follow the development of the marital relationship – reconciliation followed by further betrayal, and in a sense there are elements of the picaresque here as Ephron shows us something of life in modern America – particularly Washington and the West coast – the cuckolded husband is a diplomat.  It’s a short book to describe as picaresque, but it’s very funny.

Amazon link to Heartburn




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