Book Review: “What Nora Knew” by Linda Yellin

Mar 8 • Blog, Book Reviews • 2311 Views • No Comments on Book Review: “What Nora Knew” by Linda Yellin

Nothing beats a Nora Ephron movie!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-year-old chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance “in the style of Nora Ephron,” she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.

My Thoughts:

It’s funny: when Molly meets author Cameron Duncan, you know right away that he’s going to be her Tom Hanks, but as Molly says about Sleepless in Seattle etc, “It’s the journey that keeps you watching” or in this case, reading.

In a case of rather obvious, hopefully intentional, irony, Cameron’s books, we’re told, are full of “homages” (or rip offs, depending on your point of view) to various movies and books, which is, of course, exactly what this book is.  But watching Molly jump out of airplanes, and sneak vibrators into courthouses (really, would that even be an issue? Are there really rules about getting yourself off in courthouse bathrooms or something? Do people often try this?) is entertaining in itself. In some ways, I didn’t really even care if she did end up with Cameron or not.

The supporting characters are all well-drawn: from Molly’s mother who decided once her children were all grown that she was no longer going to cook meals, to her neighbour across the hall who’s a self-proclaimed “social media expert” (never heard of those before… where’s that darned sarcasm font when you need it???) to her boss whom I kept picturing as a cross between Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada and some kind of accident-prone sitcom boss (I’ve honestly been trying to put a name to this image for several hours now… I give up!)

Overall, it’s a good read, and I do recommend it, but there’s something… more… that I wanted. The ending, for one thing, was completely rushed, although that may have been an “homage” to Ephron, where suddenly everything clicks into place, and the magic happens. But while the ending of Sleepless is romantic, this ending seemed somewhat anti-climactic.

Still, I think most fans of Nora Ephron will appreciate What Nora Knew.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

PS – if this is your first visit here, please check out my novels, Idol Hands and What Lies Behind.

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