Is it possible to write a sidesplitting novel about the breakup of the perfect marriage? If the writer is Nora Ephron, the answer is a resounding yes. For in this inspired confection of adultery, revenge, group therapy, and pot roast, the creator of Sleepless in Seattle reminds us that comedy depends on anguish as surely as a proper gravy depends on flour and butter.Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel Samstat discovers that her husband, Mark, is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has “a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs” is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel writes cookbooks for a living. And in between trying to win Mark back and loudly wishing him dead, Ephron’s irrepressible heroine offers some of her favorite recipes. Heartburn is a sinfully delicious novel, as soul-satisfying as mashed potatoes and as airy as a perfect soufflé.
Nora Ephron was quite a famous writer of novels and film, Heartburn is one of her early novels, initially published in 1983. The title is a play on words, the main character Rachel Samstat is a cookbook author. I chose Heartburn as my first audio book mostly because it was read by Meryl Streep, having listened to the book its such a good fit, I can’t imagine anyone else doing it justice.
Heartburn is a fictional account of a real event in the author’s life. Perhaps because the overall feelings in the novel are very real to the author, the book is not very structured, it read like a long conversation with a friend. It even comes off as rambling sometimes, which might be annoying in certain scenarios but for me it fits with this situation. Because when you find out your husband has been having an affair for the entire duration of your 7 month pregnancy… Well, you’re not likely to be concise.
Rachel Samstat was a relatively sensible woman, so why did she keep making these choices? In reality smart women sometimes marry terrible men and make the decision to stay even though they know better. Sometimes it does take people longer to figure out what everyone else apparently knows, the novel is true to life in that sense.
I enjoyed feeling like I was on the journey with Rachel as she tries to figure out what went wrong and when. As she reconsiders each “happy family” moment and reads between the lines she failed to see before, trying to figure out what she could have done to prevent the affair.
The ending was thoroughly pleasurable, I mean, it involves a pie! After doing what probably a lot of people on the receiving end of infidelity do, blaming herself, she comes to her senses and exacts a little revenge.
Heartburn wasn’t “side-splitting funny” as promised in the blurb but there were quite a few bits that humored me enough to make me smile. I also wasn’t fond of the recipes scattered around in the book. One or perhaps two including the pie might have been OK, but it started to feel a bit like a filler. I listened to the audio book so pretty much just had to sit and listen to the recipes. Guess if you read a paper/e-book skipping past them would be easier.
Overall, I thought Heartburn was a really good book. Although it’s based on an emotional subject, it’s a light and quick read at just 192 pages (paperback).
Happy Reading ❤