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3.8 out of 5 stars
113
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 8 August 2017
This wonderful memoir is written as if Nora Ephron is sitting at the kitchen table with me and she's rambling around her story, as women do. As Ephron says in the introduction, she saved Carl Bernstein, the journalist of Watergate fame, from a lot of his worst excesses during his affair with Margaret Jay, the wife of Peter Jay, the British Ambassador to the United States. Also, to save their shame, she changed their names.

An example of her wit: '"Jonathan's not going to be sent to Bangladesh,' said Mark. 'Why not?' I said. 'Because we still care about Bangladesh.' said Mark." And again, 'He was like a six-year-old boy who comes up to you with a shy smile, takes your hand and gently presses a snake into it. No wonder Thelma had fallen in love with Mark; if I’d spent nineteen years with Jonathan Rice, I would have run off with a delivery boy from the Fleet Messenger Service.’ And something that perhaps only women would appreciate: 'He then told me that although he was in love with Thelma Rice, they were not having an affair. (Apparently he thought I could handle the fact that he was in love with her but not the fact that he was having sex with her.)'

'Critics who give this 'story' one star, clearly have no idea how difficult it is to put down on paper the agony of a marriage breakup nor the talent it takes to view it in comic terms. I'm so glad that Ephron found happiness in her third marriage to Nicholas Pileggi (writer of Goodfellas) which lasted until her death in 2012.
Freak Out!: My Life With Frank Zappa
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on 7 September 2017
You don’t have to be a woman to take to this book. You don’t have to be Jewish. I’m neither. You just need to know that a sense of humour is the best help through heartbreak. I shall never forget the kreplach story and am just about to heat my frying pan, if that’s what a skillet is, to create potatoes Anna. Just as soon as I’ve wiped the tears from my eyes.
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on 10 August 2017
If you like New York Jewish humour this is your sort of book and it has recipes thrown in. The names have been changed but I should say for sure there is a generous dash of autobiography in here. A quick read and a treat.
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on 2 June 2017
Girly book - proper LOL moments, not a big book for £8 though - only 2hrs of reading
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on 11 June 2017
Ok read - no real direction predictable ending and not even that amusing - felt somewhat disappointed in her his book
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on 5 August 2017
I wanted to like this book but I didn't. Not enough story to it. I wanted it to do more than it did.
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on 22 May 2017
Loving this book. Light reading funny and so New York!
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on 15 September 2017
Witty amusing .. a good read
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on 11 May 2017
A total joy to read, it's the sort of book I'll keep buying for friends until everyone I know has read it...
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Heartburn is a short novel by the late Nora Ephron and is essentially a fictionalised account of the breakdown of her second marriage after her husband's infidelity. It's hard to say whether I would have enjoyed this book as much had I not known that in reality the husband was Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein and his mistress was Margaret Jay, daughter of Prime Minister James Callaghan and wife of the British ambassador to the United States, who then went on to return to the UK and become a politician; I suspect probably not if I'm being entirely honest. Anyway: in Heartburn, screenwriter Ephron becomes food writer Rachel, Carl becomes Mark and Margaret becomes Thelma, but it's impossible not to picture them as the people they really are and and I'm sure this must have been Ephron's intention.

A marriage breakdown is an inevitably sad thing and Ephron doesn't shy away from this at all. Rachel loves Mark very much, they have a small child together and Rachel is pregnant with their second when she finds out about Mark's affair; there is no sense in which the end of their marriage cannot be sad. And yet Heartburn is for the most part very funny. It's witty, perceptive, self-deprecating and honest and although I'm fairly sure every single character would drive me utterly insane if I met them in real life - literally everyone is a wealthy, incredibly neurotic, self-obsessed gossip - I did enjoy reading about them and there are plenty of observations that apply even to those of who don't treat therapy like going for a massage and have ongoing battles over multiple property renovations.

Moreover, Ephron, through Rachel, is fully aware of the ridiculous foibles and clichés of Washington DC's well-off middle-class social set and happily draws attention to these absurdities, including her own, which makes for highly entertaining reading.

Most appealing of all is Rachel's firm commitment to getting on with life: however devastated she is by Mark's betrayal with a woman with a "a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb", she realises at the end of the book that she can't stand feeling sorry for herself and she can't stand other people feeling sorry for her. "If I tell the story," she says, "I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me."

Interspersed throughout the novel are simple recipes, including one for a vinaigrette Rachel not unreasonably can't believe Mark will be able to live without and a key lime pie that she eventually throws at him at a tedious dinner party when the penny finally drops that she can't make him love her again. I'm not entirely sure whether the recipes and the food references really sit well within the narrative, and I'm sure some people will find it jarring, but as someone who loves food and is particularly fascinated by middle-class dinner party food of the 70s and 80s, I personally greatly enjoyed them (quite tempted to make the key lime pie although I shan't be throwing mine at anyone).

There's not a single poorly-chosen or superfluous word in this book. It's a short read, and I don't think it would be anywhere near as good if it was a single page longer - just like a key ingredient in one of Rachel's meticulously proportioned recipes, if there was any more it would be too much.
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