What Nora Knew - Linda Yellin

So, in the middle of this ridiculous, record-breaking, fiercely cold, and thoroughly overwhelming winter, I bring you… summer. No, this book doesn’t take place in summer, but it reminds me of summer. It reminds me of days spent in low-slung comfy chairs, feet tucked in sand, the whisper of waves nearby, and NO SNOW! This, my friends, is a beach read. But reading it now, with the blinds closed, the heat cranked up, and the whisper of the dishwasher, I can almost pretend it’s summer.


Sorry, I lost my mind a little, and now you are thinking it takes place at the beach, but it doesn’t, it takes place in New York City. I should also preface what I am going to say with the fact that I felt a kind of kinship to the protagonist in this story. Molly Hallberg and I had a few things in common. We were both in our thirties and not married, (ok, a while ago for me, but still) surrounded by married friends who wanted us to be. We spent some time in relationships that clearly had no potential. We wanted to be swept off our feet, but we kept them firmly rooted to the ground. We loved Nora Ephron movies, and pretended we would be open-minded and not at all cynical, should a complete stranger from across the country ask us to meet at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. Molly and I both got our storybook endings, and I am not ruining anything by saying that. If you didn’t get one in a book like this, you would be disappointed, especially if you were reading it at the beach, which I’m not. (11° here)


So clearly this is not Proust. Of course it’s not, because it’s fun! Yellin has an excellent eye for details, her description of the office worker mentality is hilarious; she is spot on. Molly is one of those characters you love, but sometimes you just want to slap her. Which is fine, I have felt that way about most of my family and friends at some point. And Molly does feel like a friend. The various other characters add some interesting quirks, but this story is really all about Molly: Molly’s hysterical career, her terrible luck with men, her cautious dreams for the future. To be honest, the ultimate romance is not even that credible, but I didn’t mind because I enjoyed getting to that point so much.


So take a break from the shoveling. Get a copy of this book (I read it in about two days, but maybe you could read it in one if you don’t have kids.) Read it in a cozy place. Then, have a nice evening with someone special, and watch a Nora Ephron movie together. I think, given Yellin’s wonderful sense of humor, and her obvious appreciation, Nora would like this book.