by Nora Ephron
3 out of 10 stars
So … I went to P. A. Wilson’s list of how she rates her books. This one was so awful I wanted to give it a ZERO. However, reading her list I realize that per her method, this would rate a 3 out of 10. Why? First, at least there is a story. A story, albeit a bad one. It does have a beginning, middle, and end. The biggest thing? I was able to finish it for the purposes of this blog. … and I WOULD read it again if someone paid me money to read it!
Pros & Cons of Heartburn
There is a story arc about a robbery that is mildly interesting.
It’s often vulgar. I have read novels with heat in them, but this isn’t heat. This tale is comprised of a woman relating things in a way that appear to be meant to shock the reader.
Adultery is assumed as a norm.
It plays heavily on Jewish stereotypes.
Rachel tries to be funny about a subject that is far from funny. Her attempts at humor are actually pathetic and sad. The poor woman doesn’t own the pain, she brushes is off in her desire to not be the topic of gossip. It’s a sorry excuse for not working through her emotions.
The Bleh of it
The main character is Rachel. She continually cracks these horrid Jewish jokes/references which give me the feel of ”I am allowed to make this joke because I AM Jewish.” As I read, I kept trying to remember that the book was published in 1983. Would her remarks have been funny then? I don’t see how it could have been … The whole story is quite pathetic. … I also know that if people today made the comments like she does, they would get lambasted, pasted on the wall as a hater of men, Jewish people, and perhaps marriage.
Frankly, I didn’t find the funny of much of what she portrayed at all. Most attempts at humor were based on overused stereotypes.
The Yuck of it
So, Rachel is seven months pregnant. She discovers that her husband Mark is having an affair. Of course she is devastated… but instead of owning the devastation and anger and betrayal, she instead tells of her own infidelity at another point of the marriage. And so yuck. Like does his indiscretion make her past one ok?
And as she is moving through the story Rachel looks at men on the subway, in cafes, everywhere, and fantasizes about what it would be like being married with them. Umm, really? Wouldn’t the focus of a devastated woman be more about how she was going to move forward with a new baby and her three year old as a single mom now? It felt unbelievable and contrived.
The Heartburn of it
Later in the book, Rachel explains that when they were dating, Mark had been unfaithful to her, and so she is not really surprised when he cheats on her now. Ok. So looking back, she can see a red flag, However, the thing that burns me is that when he arrives to come get her to come back to him, he shows no remorse, no love, no emotion or desire for making things right between them at all.
And Spoiler Alert! Guess what? He doesn’t give up his relationship with the woman he is having his affair with: he actually has plans to buy a home with her – and Rachel finds out … so what the heck? I mean this is pathetic. It’s sad. Just sad…
A Moment of Redemption?
At the very end, Rachel decides not to accept this behavior. Which I applaud. But there is no discussion about her own dignity as a person, or her growth through this … She is the same person now, only trying to share her story to give herself a voice that doesn’t make her the center of gossip. And truly, it doesn’t work. This is just a horribly bad read.