Heartburn by Nora Ephron
|Heartburn by Nora Ephron|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ruth Price|
|Summary: A thinly-disguised fictionalisation of the breakup of her marriage to Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein delivers epicure and epithet. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: November 2004|
|Publisher: Virago Press Ltd|
It will come as no surprise to the reader that Heartburn is one of Nigella Lawson's favourite books. The heroine is Rachel Samstat, a thirty-something, heavily pregnant Jewish food writer who seems to have it all until she discovers her partner is planning to move in with another. Her world is thrown into turmoil and she attempts to retain a modicum of control through the comforting certainty of cookery.
I have a particular weakness for novels that scatter their text with recipes and cooking tips – and Ephron's text combines both epicure and epithet. Such a ploy invites interaction from the reader – you want to whip up her recipe for Key Lime Pie while you roundly curse her feckless husband and his too-tall lover. The film adaptation loses all the recipes and suffers as a result – this tale simply works better in print.
Ephron's talent for one-liners and vibrant characterisation are well-known, if not always fashionable, neatly bringing characters to life in a sentence or two – her first husband will forever be associated with hamsters. Mark Forman, her philandering husband, charms her by singing Gordon McRae songs. Ephron has been described as schmaltzy, and some of her work does seep into sticky sweetness, but this story-line (and its amusing meanderings, foodie and otherwise) prevents too much saccharine. While the characters in Heartburn live a rarefied existence, despite the glossy setting, there is a universality about the events and characters she describes that draws the reader in. We've all been dumped, deceived and burnt the dinner.
Even if you don't enjoy this novel, you'll have some recipes to add to your cookery file – if you have one, you're likely to enjoy this semi-autobiographical read, loosely based on Ephron's marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein and his affair with English politician Margaret Jay. It's no intellectual banquet, but if you are in the mood for a piquant titbit, Heartburn will more than satisfy.
For another book which includes recipes in the story we can recommend The Food of Love by Anthony Capella.
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