*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: I’ll Have What She’s Having
Author: Erin Carlson
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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. 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.
I’ll Have What She’s Having was a lot of fun to read, though it is not in my usual pick. It’s the story of Nora Ephron and her triumphs and failures in the show biz as she reinvented the romcom and rose to fame with stars like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I couldn’t resist, since When Harry Met Sally is one of my favourite movies. I found this to be an incredibly interesting book. It’s a tribute to Nora Ephron and all of her hard work and creativity. She really lived for the creation of something bigger and better, and she paved the way for women working in film to become great creators.
A lot of this book read as more of a biography of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. We do get an in depth background into Ephron, her love life, her upbringing, and her career. But Carlson spends quite a lot of time discussing Meg’s growth as an actress across the decades, and Hank’s as well. A lot of the other people mentioned throughout the book were unfamiliar to me. I knew the big name actors, but I had a more difficult time following Carlson’s account for those that I was less familiar. Nonetheless, Carlson’s book is full of fun retellings of various anecdotes from the set of each movie discussed.
I would have really liked to see more personal interviews between Carlson and the actors directly. The majority, if not all, of the content in the book is derived from other interviews, compiled in quite the impressive bibliography at the tale of the text. I commend the author on her hard work to seek out and find such a comprehensive grouping of articles, interviews, and stories. For me though, the book was lacking that personal touch that generally accompanies biographies. It created a bit of disconnect for me while reading. This is what makes this book a tribute more than anything else. The one thing that shines through is that Carlson is deeply devoted to telling Ephron’s story. She brings this icon alive through her pages and tells a story that is fascinating and multi-faceted. For fans of those classic Nora Ephron films, you’ll find this book a delight to read, if just for the in depth exploration of the behind-the-scenes experience on these wonderful films.