Thursday, October 3, 2013

Heartburn

Title:  Heartburn
Author:  Norah Ephron
Publication Information:  Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1983. 153 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book as this month's selection for my local book club.

Favorite Quote:  "Why do you feel you have to turn everything into a story? ... Because if I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me. Because if I tell the story, it doesn't hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it."

Rachel Sampstat is a cookbook author, a wife, and her mother. Mark Feldman is a syndicated columnist and Rachel's husband. The book begins as Rachel, seven months pregnant, learns that her husband is having an affair and has been for several months.

What ensues through the rest of the story are different reflections on relationships through Rachel and Mark's stories and the stories of the couples around them. What keeps people together? What drives them apart? Can you move beyond a betrayal like infidelity?

The emotions and complicated relationships in this book are real life - sometimes clear and sometimes a jumbled mess. Some parts of the book are funny, but to me, the sadness emerges more so than the humor.

The book's pace is somewhat frantic. To me, it adds to the sadness, leaving an impression of "if you run fast enough, you can outrun your own emotions". Written from Rachel's point of view, the book seems to flit between her varied thoughts and sometimes goes in all different directions - her first marriage, her husband's infidelity, the Washington DC political scene, friends, recipes, her parents, and other things. Sometimes it is like following a really long monologue without any given thread becoming fully developed.

This book was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. Usually, I prefer the books over the movies. With that cast and the nature of the story, this one may be better as a movie. I guess I will have to watch and decide.

2 comments:

  1. I felt the same way about the pace and the humor of this book. I appreciate the sense of humor in tough situations, but I think it was taken a bit far. I just wanted her to sit down and deal with some of it! And I don't mean a weep-over-everything type deal with it, just think seriously for a few minutes. This is the only book I've read by Ephron, but so far I think I like her movies better. =)

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    1. This was the first Norah Ephron book also, and knowing her reputation for humor, I really wanted to find it. I found parts of the book funny, but really it was mostly just sad. All the more so because, as you say, she does not stop and be serious for a little. I haven't watched any of the movies yet, but I want to compare.

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