If you are in Manhattan traveling Downtown in a car on Fifth Avenue or Seventh Avenue and you want to turn onto Tenth Street, you have to turn left. It’s a one-way street, west to east. Left on Tenth is my way home. I was left on Tenth when my husband died, and after that, life took many left turns, some perilous, some wondrous. This book is about all of them.
I like the quote above, which opens this memoir. I think we can all relate to life and it’s many left turns.
Delia Ephron was in her early 70’s when her husband died after a long illness. He was her beloved partner in life, and they had been together for almost 40 years, so she wasn’t expecting to fall in love again. But Peter entered her life, with his calm and warmth, and it seemed like synchronicity. In fact, Delia had been on a date with him years ago way before she was married, though she didn’t remember him at all. They reconnected, finding love. And then Delia got diagnosed with the same cancer that had killed her dear sister Nora.
Some of the descriptions of this book place the romantic relationship at the centre of the story, but it is more realistically a book about life’s left turns and surviving illness. I think perhaps the fear was that people might shy away from reading a book that’s about a heavy subject, which would be understandable. I don’t love books about illness and that are loaded down with darkness. But this isn’t like that at all. Delia manages to be funny, relatable, humble, vulnerable and warm, and she notices the little things. This is a book suffused with warmth and love. For example, when I was reading about her relationship with her husband in the opening pages, I was left thinking about how beautiful and precious their marriage was, not feeling depressed at all at his life ending.
Delia Ephron, if you don’t know her, is a well known and best selling author of fiction, plays and screenplays, including the script for You’ve Got Mail. Her sister was Nora Ephron, who was a journalist and writer, and also directed/wrote films, being known for changing the rom com forever with movies like When Harry Met Sally.
I liked this book. I liked Delia’s humanity and gentleness. My life is not like hers, but I related to her a lot. I liked her humour and her sense of adventure. How she loved her husband, how she falls in love unexpectedly and has to email her friends desperately for advice, how she copes with the blinding pain of loss, how she mentions her favourite thing to eat or how she likes to go on a pastry crawl when she’s in Paris. She notices and loves the little things in life. She says at one point that friendships matter, and refers to them as “homes, places of safety”, and I thought that was very true and beautiful. Friends are everything to Delia. I loved how she can laugh at the more raw times she goes through, sharing how it really feels. And through all of this book, there’s this new man in her life on this unexpected journey with her, loyal and calm and very sweet. It’s quite a love story.
Ephron doesn’t shy away from talking about her battle with cancer in this book, and I did find at around page 200 that I was a little bogged down in all the detail. We get all the twists and turns and tests and people she deals with. I do think that overall, that’s a good thing. This is what it’s really like to go through this, from diagnosis, through the gamut of emotions, so how treatments feel and how some doctors and health professionals treat you. I found that interesting and useful. Because often the people going through this can’t sit down and tell you all this, what it’s like from the inside. But it was a lot at that point (I’m sure it felt that way to her, too, going through it).
On the whole, reading this, you can see why Delia Ephron is a best seller. I liked spending time with her in this memoir a lot, and I think you will too.
Read It If: you think romance has no age limit or if you know what it feels like to have several left turns in life, all at once. Emotional, sometimes funny and heartfelt memoir.
Thank you to HBG Canada for the copy of this book for review.