Doidge’s book is warm, dutiful, and at times illuminating...It’s also, I’m sorry to say, often bland, and deeply in thrall to Ephron mythologies: the plucky gal Friday who worked her way from the Newsweek typing pool to a sprawling apartment in the Apthorp, the jilted wife who got her revenge in the pages of a soapy novel, the woman director holding her own with the big boys...'Why does Nora Ephron still matter?' Doidge writes in the introduction...'Because she gives us hope. The intelligent, self-described cynic was the one who helped us see that it’s never too late to go after your dreams'...This conflates Ephron with the genre—romance—that she interrogated...Ephron still matters, of course, but not because she embodied enthusiasm or perseverance...Dreams are useless, she might have clucked, if you can’t pick them apart on the page.
Doidge follows Ephron’s life and career through Wellesley College, and her rapid rise in New York journalism...In life and in art, Ephron was a control freak...She was obsessive about details on set, like finding the perfect coconut cupcake...She left elaborate instructions for her funeral and memorial...It cost an estimated $100,000 for 800 people and it had to be held at Lincoln Center...These are enjoyable details for Ephron’s fans, at whom this book is largely aimed...Still, when I look back, Ephron’s humorous advice to women holds up well...There’s a silver lining to mortality, she wrote in 2005: 'Not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death'...Nobody’s perfect, but I want to have what she was having.
Ephron was a comedic genius who truly found her milieu when she ventured into the world of filmmaking (three of her screenplays were Oscar-nominated)...Life was not all rosy; as with many comedic talents, there was a lingering sadness in Ephron, which Dodge ties to the early loss of her mother who taught her that 'everything is copy'...Doidge’s vivacious, enthusiastic biography has serious undertones, much like Ephron herself...It will appeal to Ephron’s broad swath of fans.
Here is Nora Ephron’s trademark wit, her instinct for life’s absurdities, her unsparing journalistic scepticism, her refusal to venerate women simply because feminism demands it, her belief that the truth makes more entertaining, impressionable material than anything you could invent...Hers is not so much a keen eye for detail, as a fundamental understanding that the detail is the story – that without these telling and often ridiculous specificities, there is no story at all...A quote on the jacket of Nora Ephron: A Biography claims that it will 'inspire the next generation of Ephron fans to pick up her writing, turn on her films, and dream another dream of what is possible in their lives'...Perhaps this reveals a chronic lack of imagination on my part, but I find it hard to envision someone reaching for this biography before streaming You’ve Got Mail or reading Heartburn...To borrow her words: I can’t understand why anyone would first read about Nora Ephron, when what she wrote about herself is so good.
Although often glossing over this glossiest of lives, Doidge’s biography will satisfy true Ephron admirers by revisiting favorite movies, dishing backstory details, and serving up insider peeks at her personal life...Those unfamiliar with Ephron’s oeuvre will be enticed to learn more as award-winning journalist Doidge hits the highlights of Ephron’s multifaceted career in a biography that is both breezy and substantial.