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on 31 December 2008
This is the loveliest of books-I came across it by accident and immediately rushed out to send it to my very best friends. The word gem comes to mind. If youre over 40 and beginning to feel old, buy this and laugh. Its so true to life, the wrinkles on our necks, on where we live, how we entertain, its a book I keep looking through and every time it makes me smile.
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I think Nora Ephron could write about the telephone book and make it entertaining (one brief section in this book about parenting proves the point). Here's an example. Most writers don't want to think about aging. If they do, they want to prescribe "solutions." Nora Ephron has a different idea: Simply describe aging as something we foolishly try to stave off (pretty unsuccessfully) by sharing her own experiences.

That concept is best captured by her essay "On Maintenance" that describes in detail the time, money, and effort she puts into trying to look as good as she can. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my cousin (who in her more naive days was a beauty queen) who always looks terrific. When I complimented my cousin on her appearance once, she replied, "You have no idea how much more effort it takes every year." Now, I do!

The essay "I Feel Bad About My Neck" is very funny. I don't think I ever look at women's necks . . . but now I know that some women do. Apparently it's all downhill after 43. The essay ends with the irony that Ms. Ephron cannot do anything about her neck without a facelift, and she's not a good candidate for a facelift.

I also liked her essays about how we fall in love with concepts, places, and people . . . for no particularly good reason. But that temporary embrace is soon replaced by another one that will probably be even more satisfying. Although not described that way, you get a sense that she views her prior two marriages much in the same way. This concept is beautifully explored in "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir" (about her affection for various cookbook authors), "Moving On" (about her 10 year delight in a large apartment in New York), "The Lost Strudel" (her desire to recreate happy experiences through food that's no longer easy to find), and "Me and Bill: The End of Love" (about her feelings about Bill Clinton as a leader).

Some of her essays border on being rants. I found those the least appealing. These include "I Hate My Purse" and "Blind as a Bat."

Vignettes are powerfully shared. I loved her humorous take on probably being the only White House intern JFK didn't make a pass at and her expert explanation about why typing was irrelevant as an intern in the JFK White House in "Me and JFK: Now It Can Be Told." She also does vignettes brilliantly in "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less."

She ends with thoughts about dying, and humor fails her. But "Considering the Alternative" is the section where you see the real woman most clearly.

Writers will love her mother's advice: "Everything is copy." The older I get, the more I realize that's true.

Those who like to fall asleep with a smile will find it makes sense to read one essay a night before turning off the light.
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on 27 July 2013
I have not yet read anything by Nora and since her untimely death, it felt overdue that I should. While the book only took a couple of hours to read, its easy narrative was entertaining without being informative or particularly funny. I cannot attest to any laugh out loud moments and more than one chuckle would be pushing it. There are however, endless humorous descriptions and watchful insights about the foibles of an ageing Jewish New Yorker.

The read felt like a meandering conversation, with rudiments of irony, wistfulness and nostalgia. I quite understand why many enjoyed the book and why some found it predictable within its genre. I would say 'pleasant' would be an appropriate word to describe the book, while 'nice' would be harsh. Considering Ephron's background in comedic social satire, this malady would not please her much.
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I think Nora Ephron could write about the telephone book and make it entertaining (one brief section in this book about parenting proves the point). Here's an example. Most writers don't want to think about aging. If they do, they want to prescribe "solutions." Nora Ephron has a different idea: Simply describe aging as something we foolishly try to stave off (pretty unsuccessfully) by sharing her own experiences.

That concept is best captured by her essay "On Maintenance" that describes in detail the time, money, and effort she puts into trying to look as good as she can. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my cousin (who in her more naive days was a beauty queen) who always looks terrific. When I complimented my cousin on her appearance once, she replied, "You have no idea how much more effort it takes every year." Now, I do!

The essay "I Feel Bad About My Neck" is very funny. I don't think I ever look at women's necks . . . but now I know that some women do. Apparently it's all downhill after 43. The essay ends with the irony that Ms. Ephron cannot do anything about her neck without a facelift, and she's not a good candidate for a facelift.

I also liked her essays about how we fall in love with concepts, places, and people . . . for no particularly good reason. But that temporary embrace is soon replaced by another one that will probably be even more satisfying. Although not described that way, you get a sense that she views her prior two marriages much in the same way. This concept is beautifully explored in "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir" (about her affection for various cookbook authors), "Moving On" (about her 10 year delight in a large apartment in New York), "The Lost Strudel" (her desire to recreate happy experiences through food that's no longer easy to find), and "Me and Bill: The End of Love" (about her feelings about Bill Clinton as a leader).

Some of her essays border on being rants. I found those the least appealing. These include "I Hate My Purse" and "Blind as a Bat."

Vignettes are powerfully shared. I loved her humorous take on probably being the only White House intern JFK didn't make a pass at and her expert explanation about why typing was irrelevant as an intern in the JFK White House in "Me and JFK: Now It Can Be Told." She also does vignettes brilliantly in "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less."

She ends with thoughts about dying, and humor fails her. But "Considering the Alternative" is the section where you see the real woman most clearly.

Writers will love her mother's advice: "Everything is copy." The older I get, the more I realize that's true.

Those who like to fall asleep with a smile will find it makes sense to read one essay a night before turning off the light.
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on 10 November 2014
I have never been a great fan of Nora Ephron's writing but heard wonderful things about this book. It's witty, frank, honest, somewhat quirky and reassuring to older women. I should say I much prefer her film scripts.
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on 30 January 2011
I've admired Nora Ephron's film work for a long time. She wrote the screenplay for 'When Harry Met Sally', one of my favourite movies. She has a wonderful knack of writing humorously and hauntingly all at the same time.

'I Feel Bad About My Neck' is a series of short essays about her life. It reflects that time in life when each of us has to face our mortality, work through the inner turmoil that may bring and arrive at a place where we can be at peace with ourselves and our age. This is a chocolate box book. One into which you can dip in every now and again and pick out a soft cream one day and a brazil nut the next. For example: "But if the events of the last few years have taught me anything, it's that I'm going to feel like an idiot if I die tomorrow and I skimped on bath oil today." Funny and very readable.
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on 27 June 2014
Nora Ephron was essential reading in the magazines of the 1970s, her writing for the movies is like snow, deep and crisp and even - and bittersweet, and now that I am middle aged, she captures the way that women of our age feel.
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Probably best appreciated by the over 50-s, this book is especially poignant now that the author has died just last month aged 71. Nora Ephron, well known through writing the screenplays for "When Harry Met Sally" and "You've Got Mail" among many others, writes hilariously about motherhood, children, relationships, and the angst of discovering that with age comes the horror not only of your changing neck but the betrayal of your entire body from failing eyesight to unwanted body hair. She advises younger women to appreciate their bodies while they still have them but wisely concludes: What's the Alternative? The short chapters are random, and the topics jump about from living in New York to the author's love of cookery; but I loved the wit, wisdom and humour of all of it.
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on 15 February 2014
Perfect when you are post 60 but also great when you are in your 30s to learn more about what's to come. Nora Ephron is highly entertaining and I think most women will be able to relate to this book.
One of my new favourite reads, I have already recommended it to my mum and sister.
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I think Nora Ephron could write about the telephone book and make it entertaining (one brief section in this book about parenting proves the point). Here's an example. Most writers don't want to think about aging. If they do, they want to prescribe "solutions." Nora Ephron has a different idea: Simply describe aging as something we foolishly try to stave off (pretty unsuccessfully) by sharing her own experiences.

That concept is best captured by her essay "On Maintenance" that describes in detail the time, money, and effort she puts into trying to look as good as she can. I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my cousin (who in her more naive days was a beauty queen) who always looks terrific. When I complimented my cousin on her appearance once, she replied, "You have no idea how much more effort it takes every year." Now, I do!

The essay "I Feel Bad About My Neck" is very funny. I don't think I ever look at women's necks . . . but now I know that some women do. Apparently it's all downhill after 43. The essay ends with the irony that Ms. Ephron cannot do anything about her neck without a facelift, and she's not a good candidate for a facelift.

I also liked her essays about how we fall in love with concepts, places, and people . . . for no particularly good reason. But that temporary embrace is soon replaced by another one that will probably be even more satisfying. Although not described that way, you get a sense that she views her prior two marriages much in the same way. This concept is beautifully explored in "Serial Monogamy: A Memoir" (about her affection for various cookbook authors), "Moving On" (about her 10 year delight in a large apartment in New York), "The Lost Strudel" (her desire to recreate happy experiences through food that's no longer easy to find), and "Me and Bill: The End of Love" (about her feelings about Bill Clinton as a leader).

Some of her essays border on being rants. I found those the least appealing. These include "I Hate My Purse" and "Blind as a Bat."

Vignettes are powerfully shared. I loved her humorous take on probably being the only White House intern JFK didn't make a pass at and her expert explanation about why typing was irrelevant as an intern in the JFK White House in "Me and JFK: Now It Can Be Told." She also does vignettes brilliantly in "The Story of My Life in 3,500 Words or Less."

She ends with thoughts about dying, and humor fails her. But "Considering the Alternative" is the section where you see the real woman most clearly.

Writers will love her mother's advice: "Everything is copy." The older I get, the more I realize that's true.

Those who like to fall asleep with a smile will find it makes sense to read one essay a night before turning off the light.
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