Who out there can be so witty and compelling that I, a woman in my mid-twenties, can devour a collection of essays on ageing as if reading from a book of my own life? The answer is what the answer should always be: Nora Ephron. Feeling down? Nora Ephron. Things not going your way? Nora Ephron. Feeling great? Nora Ephron. Feeling guilty about feeling great? Nora Nora Nora.
From the state of her handbag (and the assortment of crap stored within it), to the imaginary letters written to authors whose characters have become more like friends than works of fiction to her, Nora is funny, and honest.
She embodies a self-deprecating approach to storytelling which I regularly employ but never quite had the insight to understand: that when you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you, but when you tell people about it, it’s your joke and it no longer has power over you. Nora slips on banana peels, and it becomes a life lesson – not in avoiding bananas but in laughing about it (and then writing about it and, sometimes, if you’re lucky, making money out of it).
Criticism of the book is so often coloured with words like “frivolous” or “trivial”, but anyone who thinks this is simply a story of purses, anti-ageing face creams, divorce and cabbage strudels doesn’t get it.