Infidelity peppered with recipes and jokes, arts information & prime tales



By Nora Ephron
Virago / 1983, reissued 2018/192 pages / paperback / $ 19.94 / major bookstores

Rachel Samstat writes cookbooks to make a living. When she is seven months pregnant, she learns that her husband, a newspaper columnist, is cheating on her with a friend.

To deal with the horrific, she puts a pen on paper, and what follows are roughly 200 pages of hilarious, humorous personal observations about love, marriage, and divorce – framed by recipes for bread pudding, cheesecake, and other home-style cooking.

Nora Ephron’s heartburn was released in 1983. It is strongly autobiographical and refers to the high-profile affair of her journalist husband Carl Bernstein.

Infidelity may be a gloomy subject, but heartburn never simmered in melancholy.

His sober, talkative style feels like something out of a comedy – in fact, a lot of it wouldn’t feel out of place in a movie like When Harry Met Sally … (1989), which the late Ephron wrote the script for, by the way.

The font is sharp and there are more than a few snappy comments.

“Beware of men who cry,” writes Rachel. “It is true that men who cry are sensitive to and come into contact with feelings, but the only feelings they are sensitive to and come into contact with are their own.”

At its core, Ephron’s novel is warm, life-affirming read, the narrator occasionally wrapping himself in the thoughtless, calming activity of cooking.

“What I love about cooking is that after a busy day there is something calming about when you melt butter and add flour and then add hot broth, it gets thick! It’s a sure thing! It’s a sure thing in a world where nothing is certain; it has a mathematical certainty in a world where those of us who crave some sort of certainty are forced to be content with crossword puzzles. “

Relationships are never easy – we know that much. But with a pinch of humor, compassion, and the comfort of food and writing, one can find a way that life can go on.

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