Heartburn: Remembering Nora Ephron Through Her Unique Brand of Humored Heartbreak
When I heard the recent news of Nora Ephron's passing, I was not only heartbroken, but in shock. I didn't know my heroine had been sick, but I think Sally Quinn put it nicely in The New York Times, saying: "She [Ephron] had this thing about not wanting to whine … She didn't like self-pity. It was always, you know, 'Suck it up.' " I am sure that I was not alone in immediately thinking, "Why have I waited this long to read all of her books?" So I picked up Heartburn and it captured the whole "suck it up" sentiment perfectly. Ephron wrote Heartburn following her divorce from her second husband, Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein. It is a painful story, but it wouldn't be an Ephron novel unless it was also painfully funny.
The main character, Rachel Samstat, is a seven-months-pregnant food writer who has just found out that her husband Mark has been cheating on her during her pregnancy. Heartbroken, Rachel leaves Mark, a political columnist based in Washington, D.C., and moves back to her father's house in New York City. And things get worse: While dealing with the anger and pain she feels over Mark's betrayal, Rachel is robbed at gunpoint. Feeling vulnerable, and still very much in love with her husband, she decides to return to her husband in D.C. The reunion is anything but seamless, though, and in one classic Ephron scene, Rachel expresses herself pie-in-the-face style.
Here's the recipe for her key lime pie (in case you need to let someone know how you really feel):
"The key lime pie is very simple to make. First you line a nine-inch pie plate with a graham cracker crust. Then beat six egg yolks. Add one cup lime juice (even bottled lime juice will do), two fourteen-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk, and one tablespoon grated lime rind. Pour into the pie shell and freeze. Remove from freezer and spread with whipped cream. Let sit five minutes before serving."
Ephron takes the reader on an incredibly emotional journey and she does so while finding the ideal balance between brutal honesty, sentimentality, and complete absurdity, with a few recipes thrown into the mix. Who else can turn heartbreak into a best-selling novel and successful movie like Nora Ephron? No one, and that's the reason why she will be missed.