Saturday, November 9, 2013

Book Review: What Nora Knew

What Nora Knew, by Linda Yellin.

"See, that's what's intriguing about you. I never know what you're going to say. I'd have taken you for a loves-surprises woman."

"Really?" I liked that self-image. Maybe someday I'd adopt it.

"What's interesting about knowing an ending?" "Well, in Sleepless in Seattle, your supposed number one favorite movie, we know Meg will end up with Tom. But it's not about who she's going to end up with. We still want to keep watching. We're mesmerized by the journey."

Cameron seemed to be considering my comment, making a mental note. "Maybe the mystery isn't who we're supposed to be with in life," he said, "but what's keeping us from recognizing them."

The title of this book drew me in, as I'm a big fan of Nora Ephron's movies, and I was curious as to how she tied in to the novel. The book follows Molly, who is toiling away at a writing job she sometimes hates, and dating the "dependable" Russell, whom she likes but isn't sure she loves. She meets a fellow writer, Cameron, and is at first annoyed by him; later, however, she can't stop thinking about him, and starts to wonder why.

Official synopsis:
Linda Yellin, romcomsMolly 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.

First off, this novel was funny. I haven't laughed out loud while reading a book in some time, and I was delighted to find that Molly's screwball sense of humor was indeed humorous. We follow her through situation after situation, and her job is definitely interesting - she's a bit of a "human interest" reporter, and Deidre, her boss, makes her go on crazy assignments like skydiving and trying to sneak ... toys through security at a courthouse.

I will say this novel was very much predictable, but that is what made it fun while reading it. Nora Ephron's movies are predictable as well - in You've Got Mail, Meg ends up with Tom Hanks, and you're rooting for her to dump Greg Kinnear's character - and the same goes for Sleepless in Seattle referenced in the quote from What Nora Knew, above. What makes it fun, however, is trying to figure out how Molly will work her way through the novel, and what exactly her fate will be in the end, even though we have a rough idea of what that fate will be.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes "romcoms," as well as anyone who thinks you have to find your true love by age 30 (or 35, or 40, etc.) or else you're "out of luck."

What Nora Knew will be in stores on January 21, 2014. 4 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this novel from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


  1. I have been looking for a book that makes me laugh for quite some time, so I'm happy to read your review! I am about to sign onto netgalley to see if it's still available for review. Thanks for the recommendation!

    - surb

    1. I was going to say it would be gone, since I got it a while ago, but it might still be - the book itself is not out until January. Good luck! :)


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