Book Review: I'll Have What She's Having

Friday, September 8, 2017

I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson

From the publisher:
A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron's revered trilogy--When Harry Met SallyYou've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle--which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.

In I'll Have What She's Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Reiner, Hanks, Ryan, and Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron--who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it--ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members. 

Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron's fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separatel balked at playing Mail's Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless' Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing ... in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America's most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I'll Have What She's Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.

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This was a case of a book with a great concept and premise, but slightly less than great execution. While I loved the subject material, and reading behind the scenes personal details about some of my favorite movies (especially When Harry Met Sally) and details of Nora Ephron's life, the writing was often confusing. 
The author jumps around to new ideas and stories a lot which ended up confusing me more than once. 

At one point she's talking about Meg Ryan's life, and in the next she's back to quoting Nora Ephron on another topic. The book could also be shorter. Some of the descriptions and examples are less necessary and less interesting than others. 

However, overall I enjoyed this book and the many interesting tidbits and stories it offered about some movies that I love. The more you enjoy romantic comedies, actors, and these three films in particular, the more you'll enjoy this book. 

Links: Goodreads, Amazon, the book tour

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