The late, lamented Nora Ephron's Heartburn is based on the disintergration of her marriage to journalist Carl Berstein, when their eldest son was two years old and she was seven months pregnant with their second son. In the novel, the main character Rachel discovers her husband is having an affair when she finds a book of children's songs inscribed to her husband Mark by his mistress Thelma:
"My darling Mark," it began, "I wanted to give you something to mark what happened today, which makes our future so much clearer. Now you can sing these songs to Sam [ed: Rachel and Mark's two-ear-old child], and someday we will sing them to him together. I love you. Thelma."
Now I'm sure there aren't any pleasant ways of learning about your husband's new lover but this one strikes me as particularly unpleasant and unsettling. It's as if Thelma has written her a personal note: "I plan to steal your husband first -- and then your child. Just you wait until you pop out the next one." Rachel, distraught, later has the following telephone conversation about the affect of her despair on little Sam with her great friends Julie and Arthur:
"Where are you?" said Julie.
"In New York," I said. "At my father's."
"Where's Sam?" said Julie.
"With me," I said.
"Does he know what's happening?" said Arthur.
"I don't think so," I said. "I've been crying for eight hours now and he hasn't even noticed."
"I know," said Julie. "When Alexandra was two I cried for eight months and she never noticed."
Sounds like a depressing story but it is actually very funny. Will finish the book tonight and watch the movie tomorrow, perhaps. RIP dear Nora.
(I was amused to discover when reading up on Nora that apparently after her marriage with Bernstein ended in such an upsetting way, she'd happily tell anyone who asked who Deep Throat was. Weird that the media insisted it was such a secret for so long.)