February. The month of love! I thought the group had picked a light rom-com when I saw that the winning book (Heartburn) was written by Nora Ephron and had a pink cover with a heart on it. Instead what I ended up reading was more of a short novel about the process of falling out of love. The plot was a bit of a downer, but the writing itself was light, funny and cynical.
The book jumps right in with both feet, and the first thing we find out is that the main character, Rachel, has been cheated on by her husband of several years, Mark. Mark does not come off very well in the book, but that could be due to the bitter first-person narrative of The Woman Scorned. Both Rachel and Mark seem funny and successful like many Washington, DC power couples, but we find out they don’t have that much in common. It comes out that Rachel has been seeing a therapist for many years, which Mark doesn’t take seriously (jerk alert). Rachel harbors a lot of resentment against him for this, so I got the impression that their relationship may have been on the rocks aside from the obvious adultery transgression. It’s not a good sign if a person and their spouse don’t respect each other.
So, I think I covered what made it a downer. Here’s what counteracted that: Nora Ephron’s writing shone through in Rachel’s voice as witty and conversational. She used lots of asides (which I like to do, look I just used one), to great comic effect. There was exaggeration, too, and lots of New York and DC stereotypes and unique side characters (like Rachel’s neurotic first husband who sounded absolutely dreadful). The way she worked recipes in seamlessly and conversationally was a nice touch, too.
Oh, and Rachel also resents the fact that Mark (a newspaper columnist) used to turn life events into fodder for his writing. This struck home to me as a blogger. I like to write about my life but I have been conscientious not to write about everything and especially not stuff that affects my relationships with those who have no voice in my story.
Nora Ephron famously wrote movies like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally so I was looking for a show-stopping romantic ending, but instead the book ends somewhat abruptly and leaves the reader pondering what would happen next. I was glad to read something short and I’m not really bothered by non-endings (when it’s a slice of life like this, anyway) so I thought the open-ended conclusion was fine but I rate the book overall as a bit forgettable.
A reminder that we started a facebook group for the book club if you would rather discuss our monthly reads over there instead of in the comment section here. We had a really nice time talking about Heartburn last night and fangirling over Queen Meryl Streep. Message me on facebook to be added. Also, don’t forget to stop by Libby and Steph’s blogs to see their book club responses.
March commences today, and our group chose The Handmaid’s Tale. There’s a Hulu series coming out in April based on this dystopian fiction, and it seems like something Every Good Feminist reading should have under her belt. I’m a bit intimidated though, but here goes!