This edition – Virago Press 2018. First Published in Great Britain in 1983 by William Heinemann
Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel, a cookery writer, discovers that her husband is in love with another woman. The fact that the other woman has ‘a neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb’ is no consolation. Heartburn is a rollercoaster of love, betrayal, revenge – and how to make the perfect soufflé.
Nora Ephron shows us that the pen is mightier than the sword in this roman-a-clef. ‘I always thought during the pain of the marriage that one day it would make a funny book.’ Ephron once said. And it is!
For those who follow this blog, or even follow me on Instagram you will know that I have only very recently discovered Nora Ephron, via her essay collection, I Feel Bad About My Neck. This book, Heartburn has sat on my shelf a little longer, an impulse buy due to the sheer beauty of the Virago Modern Classics Edition, combined with the positive recommendation of the bookseller.
Heartburn is a work of fiction based on the breakup of Ephron’s second marriage, her husband disclosing he loved someone else when she was 7 months pregnant. She had touched on this in her essay collection so I was familiar with what had happened, but I once again found myself impressed with her sharp and witty writing and flew through this book in a matter of hours.
The writing is nothing short of brilliant, through this loose piece of fiction Ephron details the breakup of the relationship, while using the medium of writing to distance from the pain and add a humorous element. She openly draws on others experiences and uses ‘everything as copy’. Honestly I found it difficult to distinguish this fiction from Ephron’s essays but I found the books complemented each other.
Some books are meant to be kept and I spoke in a previous post when I reviewed I Feel Bad About My Neck (review here) about what a beautiful edition I had. So now, let me tell you about the VMC edition! With a pretty sparkly cover and French flaps it was impossible to leave this book in the shop – and rightly so, when the content is brilliant!
Each VMC edition is individually designed while following the same format of an abstract, but attractive cover and the French flaps. With the familiar apple on the spine the side view is equally impressive and this is a collection I will definitely be adding to.
‘The Virago Modern Classics list is wonderful. It’s quite simply one of the best and most essential things that has happened in publishing in our time. I hate to think where we would be without it’. Ali Smith
About the Author
Nora Ephron received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for When Harry Met Sally, Silkwood and Sleepless in Seattle, which she also directed. Ephron began writing for cinema after years as one of America’s best known journalist. Three collections of her essays, Crazy Salad, Scribble, Scribble and I Feel Bad About My Neck have been bestsellers, along with her novel, Heartburn. She died in 2012 at the age of seventy one.