By Nora Ephron
“Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel, a cookery writer, discovers that her husband is in love with another woman”.
I found this book very readable with some good observations and wit but I did find most of the characters annoying at some point. I think it’s all the therapists these rich Americans have. “My therapist”, “his therapist”, “her therapist”, because everyone has one. And they all rattle about these nice apartments eating expensive food, bitching about each other and cheating on one another. In the end she sells her diamond ring for $15,000.
It did also seem quite dated, with talk of how women like to be married and stay married and need to turn a blind eye to men, who are innately and unavoidably restless and crap, two assumptions that did not sit right with me. Thankfully Rachel is able to overcome those voices and part of the joy of the novel is in seeing that happen.
It made me ponder love and marriage though, and the nature of infidelity. I have never been unfaithful or (to the best of my knowledge) been cheated on but it seems like it is generally a very common thing, and not just in fiction. Are we asking too much of one another when we seek to keep people monogamous? Is it the best or most natural way to be? How do we know? Who decides? I loathed the husband in this, but for me whilst the infidelity would be hard (though not impossible) to forgive, it was his arrogance and contemptuous treatment of Rachel that angered me so much and which I would find unforgivable.
There is a superb bit about the impact of children on marriages, (“A child is like a grenade… all the power struggles of the marriage now have a new playing field”) and some other sharp observations that hit home.
The final chapter of the book is actually my favourite. It starts with the lines:
“If I had to do it over again, I would have made a different kind of pie. The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma.”
I think this would be an excellent opening to any novel, not just a chapter. I didn’t love the book enough for it to be one I re-read (or maybe I did, but I didn’t love the characters enough for it to be a favourite), but I may open it again for the recipes, particularly the key lime pie.