I read Heartburn in less than the three weeks I was loaned from the library. Apparently, there is a whole waiting list for the Nora Ephron books since the news of her death was recent. Perhaps a book club is forming to commemorate the memory of the author and screenwriter.
Her writing was flawless with no spelling errors, comma splices or structure problems. The mood of the whole book was also comedic, with notes of irony in almost every chapter. It was just how When Harry Met Sally was written.
There was even a note at the end where the main character mentioned Harry’s logic in the twelfth chapter. She said something about believing in love when it sometimes throws bumps and curves; that sometimes things get out there and get out of hand. But either way, you have to have faith in love to find someone worthwhile.
This book was worth reading for that reason, for the reason of writing it was to encourage women to keep faith in love when there’s no hope for a failed relationship.
However, it was a pretty sad read because the story ended in divorce.
For those who haven’t read my earlier blog posts, here’s a brief synopsis: Rachel Samstat is a thirtysomething cookbook writer who is seven months pregnant with her second child and in love with her husband Mark. Problem is, her husband in love with another man’s wife Thelma. So she tries to win the man she married back, until she realizes he really doesn’t want her anymore.
At one point, an old boyfriend of hers, who’s having some marriage trouble of his own with his wife, begs Rachel to marry him when he hears the news that her husband is seeing someone else. Richard seems like the nicest guy in the world, probably a great romantic to my taste, but Rachel turns him down because she thinks she’s still in love with her husband. Honestly, that’s the man she should have left her husband for because he could take care of her and her kids.
Then again, maybe not. He was a little drunk when he proposed and he was acting desperate because he found out his wife was a lesbian, like Ross from Friends.
Though the plotline was sad, mainly because it was semiautobiographical with the disintegration of Ephron’s second marriage to All the President’s Men coauthor Carl Bernstein, there were some parts of it that made me think… and made me hungry.
One of the things that wetted my appetite was most of the recipes mentioned throughout the novel. There were three different ways of cooking potatoes in one chapter, although I would have used some garlic salt and dill for the mashed potatoes, and some other chapters included recipes for key lime pie, linguine, and pot roast—things that would make a good meal.
The one recipe that made my mouth water was the cheesecake. I had a dream the following morning about The Cheesecake Factory where I ate a big slice of their famous 30th anniversary cheesecake and I took the rest home to eat on another night because I couldn’t eat any more. No wait, that actually happened before, with my best friend!
I also loved the conspiracy of Rachel’s friends who spread gossip amongst themselves when they heard someone was having an affair. Betty was probably the one spreading the most gossip, even to the woman Rachel’s husband was seeing, leading her to buy a house with Mark and never speaking to Rachel again.
And the one quote that I actually thought was touching was part of a conversation between Rachel and her married friend Julie. It was actually kind of funny because Rachel is my name and Julie is my mother’s name, and we are very close:
“So what do we do?” I said.
“We hang on,” she said, “and if it doesn’t work we try again with the next one.”
That’s actually something my mother would say if I were in the same situation. I’m sure I would call her up and ask her what to do, and she’d always have the answer about it. Then again, she’s been married for 26 years and never had a divorce herself.
Thus, I consulted another book to see if there was some advice to give to the Samstats going through the same sad story. I took one last look at a couple of chapters near the end of Much Ado About Loving again and got some interesting thoughts on cheating. The male author, Jack Murnighan, wrote advising the person doing the cheating on the one side of the relationship, advising if it’s ok to go after a person who “fell out of the sky” as he put it in one chapter, or if it’s ok to commit adultery to save the marriage.
Honestly, neither one is ok to me. I dated this one guy, the guy I mentioned in “I declare independence” who wanted to have sex with me, but I didn’t want to. He even suggested that I could still see him while having no-strings-attached relationships with other women, but I made it absolutely clear to him that it was not ok.
In “Madame Ho-Vary”, Murnighan used the novel Madame Bovary to talk about adultery in the female’s sense. He could have used Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter as well, but he stuck to one where the woman, Emma Bovary, was flighty rather than the good girl Hester Prynne. Basically it says that having an affair while you’re in a relationship may not be the easiest way to solve the problem with your significant other, hence, “When infidelity is the easiest way out instead of the only way out, it probably can’t be justified.”
On the other hand, there’s the Tolstoy approach to solving an adulterous significant other. In Anna Karenina, which is soon to be a movie by the way, tells the tragic tale of Anna and her affair with Vronsky to teach the moral that affairs lead to disappointment. Anna’s husband was the tormenting and abusive man who was slowly killing the heroine, so Anna met the young caring man Vronsky to save her.
But in the end, he still left her. As Murnighan put it in his interpretation, Vronsky was “someone who enjoys the chase but isn’t keeping what he has caught.”
I’ll say! I’ve been with one of those guys a number of times. One of them was “Evil Alex” of course, the one who I made out with on campus after I broke up with my boyfriend for a week until he went to third base with me without my permission.
Therefore, Rachel should have read this self-help book to understand her husband was not going to come back to her without seeing other women. After all, that man was breaking up two marriages: his own and someone else’s.
So when you find out your husband or boyfriend is cheating on you or he’s doing something you don’t like, don’t give him a taste of his own medicine. Sometimes talking it out with him or leaving him is the only way out.
Little Miss Pink