Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review of "I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman" by Nora Ephron

Multi-talented Nora Ephron was a journalist, director, and author. In her heyday Ephron wrote the screenplays for some very popular movies including 'Julie and Julia', 'You've Got Mail', 'Sleepless in Seattle', 'When Harry Met Sally', and 'Silkwood.' This audiobook - read by the author - contains a collection of humorous essays written when Ephron was 60 years old...and stopped having birthdays. In fact Ephron notes that, upon publication of this book, she'll have been 60 for five years (ha ha ha).

As might be expected, many of the essays touch on the subject of aging. The book's title, for instance, refers to the fact that 'older ladies' in Ephron's circle always wear turtlenecks or scarves to hide those crepey necks. (I think this is an exaggeration but I get the idea.) Ephron's semi tongue-in-cheek description of her maintainance regime includes regular coloring sessions at the hairdresser followed by bi-weekly blowouts, frequent manicures and pedicures, a rigorous exercise schedule, constant dieting, botox injections, bath oils, and endless containers of expensive lotions for specific parts of the body (hands, face, feet, etc.) - which must NEVER cross over. All this is costly and time-consuming...but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to keep from looking like the bag lady on the corner.

Ephron lovingly describes her large rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan's Apthorp building, which was close to every kind of store, hairdresser, nail salon, restaurant, etc. that a person could want - as well as a playground for the kids. Ephron lived in this heavenly residence for many years until - with the end of rent control - the rent was set to rise to $12,000 a month. Wow!

In another entertaining story Ephron speaks about her dismay when cabbage strudel disappeared from Manhattan restaurants and bakeries. Ephron was an excellent cook who - like the character in 'Julie and Julia' - worked her way through much of Julia Child's cookbook. However, hard as she tried, Ephron couldn't reproduce the strudel. The writer goes to great lengths, and even consults friends in high places, to try to find this savory delight. Does she succeed? You'll have to read the book to know.

Ephron was an intern in President John F. Kennedy's White House and - inspired by one of Kennedy's blabby flings - tells the 'true story' of her relationship with the handsome politician. She also talks about her 'love affair' with Bill Clinton. Nothing scandalous...I don't want to start any rumors. LOL.

Other essays mention Ephron's discomfort with aging, her numerous marriages, her kids, her career, her celebrity neighbors, and her sadness when her best friend became ill and died.

Complete honesty: The book lags in places and the author's narrating style - slow with odd emphases - is a little distracting.

The essays are aimed at metropolitan 'women of a certain age', but many people would probably enjoy the book. I'd recommend it to readers who want an entertaining light read.

Rating: 3 stars

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