What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin (Review)

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Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-year-old chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance “in the style of Nora Ephron,” she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.

Linda Yellin‘s second novel, WHAT NORA KNEW, an homage to Nora Ephron and romantic movies, about a cynical journalist who’s assigned to write about romance Nora-style and flunks out big time, will be published by Simon & Schuster in January, 2014.

Her memoir, THE LAST BLIND DATE, about moving to New York for love but finding condo boards, contractors, step-children, private schools, Ivy League name-droppers, and the challenge of making new girlfriends all waiting for her, too, was published in 2011 by Simon & Schuster. Her first novel, SUCH A LOVELY COUPLE, was reissued by Simon & Schuster the same year.

Previously, she spent an inordinate number of years in the advertising industry, where she worked at Needham, Harper & Stears (now DDB), J. Walter Thomson (now JWT), Foote, Cone and Belding (now DraftFCB) and Ogilvy and Mather (now Ogilvy). Tired of all her employers changing their names, she changed careers.

Linda was an ongoing guest on SiriusXM Radio’s women’s talk show, Broadminded, and has published many national magazine pieces, including several short stories featuring an ongoing character, Daphne Bogin, for Redbook magazine, as well as humor pieces and essays for More magazine.


WHAT NORA KNEW is such a sweet and funny novel. It is like watching a Nora Ephron movie. You have Molly, with her quick wit and sarcasam, and you have Cameron the ladies man author. They match each other witty comment to witty comment, neither understanding in the beginning that they had just met their match.

WHAT NORA KNEW is full of laugh out loud moments as we accompany Molly through her life, her friends, her family, and her relationships. The banter between the two leading characters, Molly and Cameron, is charming and the reader cannot help but fall in love with them.

There are the Sunday dinners when everyone shows up with Mr. Right – including Grandma. There are Saturday night gatherings where adult friends cannot keep their hands to themselves. Everyone has found love, has found the right one, except for Molly.

I am a huge fan of Nora Ephron’s movies, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. I put this book up there among these great movies. Linda Yellin has a hit on her hands and I’m off to buy her other books.

WHAT NORA KNEW definitely rates a 5 star.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Quotes:

“What an opportunity!” “I want this to be sharp, witty, candid. Poignant and intimate. Written like Nora Ephron.” I gulped. An audible, embarrassing gulp. “But I’m not Nora Ephron.” “You aren’t Abe Lincoln, but you can study the Civil War.”

Kristine‘s wide-eyed and thin-lipped, with eyeglasses that are always smudged. Honest to God, she must dredge them through a mud puddle every morning. She wears heels to make herself not just tall, but intimidating, and can out eat a military division without gaining an ounce.”

“Hot guys frequent rock-climbing clubs,” she said. “That could be a place to meet someone.” I grinned at my optimistic friend. “Yes, sweetie. Right before you meet a paramedic.”

“I wonder if you and I would have been paired on Match” my mother said to my dad. They were sitting side by side. She elbowed him and smiled like a schoolgirl. “Absolutely” my father said, “as soon as I wrote searching for a woman who can decoupage.” “Ziggy Grossman was the most romantic man I ever met,” my grandmother said. “Started every morning by making me breakfast. Two fried eggs and  buttered toast.” “Oh, that is romantic,” Lisa said. “Up until the day he died?” “Up until my cholesterol went to hell.”

“Kristine picked up the check. “My treat. I can use my discount.” She started unloading her purse onto the table. A wad of used Kleenex. Crumpled receipts. A brush with enough hair in it to weave a wig. A spare pair of smudged eyeglasses (no case). Two condom packets. A rolled-up open potato-chip bag. The bottom half, but not the cover, of a lip gloss. “This is not an attractive sight,” I said. “Just give me a minute. You know Nora Ephron’s essay about hating her purse? In her hating-her-neck book? She was writing about me.” “How about I buy? I’m willing to pay full retail if I can stop you before you whip out an old tampon.”

“Russell turned on a side lamp. I poured wine. “Kristine, you look beautiful in this light,” Hunkster said. “So do you, Angela,” Charlie said. I turned to Russell, waiting for him to say how striking I looked in the glare of his three-way bulb. “Peppadew, anyone?” he asked.

“At dinner I sat next to Kristine and Hunkster, across from Russell, who sat next to Charlie and Angela. Underneath the table Hunkster and Kristine were rubbing knees, Charlie and Angela played footsy. More hands were under the table than on the table. It’s a good thing we didn’t serve corn on the cob. Where were my girlfriends? These two strangers looked like Kristine and Angela, sounded like Kristine and Angela, but these women were a couple of horny-assed sex kittens.”

“I can’t tell if he likes me, or if he hates when a woman doesn’t like him, making me some sort of challenge. He’s what your generation would call a ladies’ man.” “What would your generation call him?” my father asked. “A man-whore.”

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