When a writer for an on-line magazine is given the assignment to write about love, the way Nora Ephron might, the very un-romantic Molly Hallberg struggles to define something that is quite foreign to her. She is living with very comfortable chiropractor. It’s not love. It’s not passion. It’s comfort and convenience. And when she is pursued by another writer, a gentleman desired by women all over the world, she thinks he’s full of crap. How will Molly ever be able to write ‘like Nora’ when the concept of love is so unknown to her?
Let me confess that I am a man and this is most definitely a ‘chick-lit’ book. I’m likely to have a very different take on this sort of fiction. But as someone who considers himself a bit of a romantic (I identify with Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle) I certainly wouldn’t mind some Nora-like romance.
But that’s not what you’re going to get here.
Author Linda Yellin does a really fine job of setting up Molly as a pragmatic, un-romantic. Really fine. Perhaps many of the women who read a book like this sympathize with Molly or see aspects of themselves in this character. But as a male … and one who would really identify with Cameron – someone who has gotten a reputation as a bit of a Lothario but who is sincere and passionate … I started to wonder why anyone would pursue this woman. After repeatedly ripping on Cameron – insulting him and refusing to believe he’s sincere, Molly says, “He brought out my tart-tongued dark side.” But in the margin of my Kindle, I wrote “Or she’s naturally a real bitch.”
And that’s sort of the problem I have with this book; I not only never identify with Molly, she comes across as too much of a bitch for me and I can’t understand why Cameron continues to be interested in her. The set-up is carried just a little too far and even though Yellin brings some overt Nora Ephron to the story, we passed the point where it is believable.
I liked the idea behind the story, and I actually liked a lot of the plot. The book comes close to succeeding. But Molly isn’t the right character to find success in a Nora Ephron story. I understand that this might be part of the point, but careful management of the character would have made it so that we would actually want the two main characters to get together.
I do think that my experience with this book is different from how most readers will see it. My testosterone is a little too high, and I’m certainly not patient enough to put up with a character who simply doesn’t want to be liked.
Looking for a good book? What Nora Knew is author Linda Yellin’s homage to Nora Ephron, but the main character doesn’t appear to want to find an Ephron-love.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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What Nora Knew
author: Linda Yellin
publisher: Gallery Books
paperback, 320 pages