Review: What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Reading | Comments Off on Review: What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

Review: What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin

It was pure luck that I found my latest read while sifting through various book blogs and reader recommendations on Goodreads. I knew that I wanted something light and fresh, with great voice and a clever premise. I’m pretty worn out on paranormal creatures and fantasy settings, so something contemporary and fun was a must. When I read the synopsis for What Nora Knew, I was hooked. I mean, seriously, a novel that mirrors the wry humor and romantic wit of the fabulous Nora Ephron? I’m in!

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What_Nora_Knew_by_Linda_YellinIn this clever take on modern chick-lit, we meet Molly Hallberg, a thirty-nine-year- old magazine writer who dreams of having her own column. She’s saddled with all the crazy story assignments, including skydiving, smuggling vibrators through security, and even speed-dating. Molly has been unlucky in love after divorcing a smarmy divorce lawyer who left her for another woman and serially dating in the five years after, but she thinks she’s finally got things figured out in the love department with her current boyfriend Russell. After all, he’s perfect on paper, right? Molly has convinced herself that safe is good, and that she just doesn’t need the spark of true romance.

Molly gets the chance to prove herself at work with a story on New York City Romance, but there’s a catch. Her boss has requested that the story be in the style of Nora Ephron, but cynical Molly couldn’t be more removed from the writer’s signature romantic style. When Molly meets her match in crime writer Cameron Duncan, she’s blind sighted by her own cynicism and doesn’t see the opportunity presented before her.

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What Nora Knew is a fast-paced romp through New York City, with all of the fun and high-energy antics of the big city. From weekends vacationing in the Hamptons to the crazy world of speed dating in fancy uptown hotels, setting is a huge part of this novel. I love that Molly is a career-minded woman with more on her mind than just romance, and how open she is to taking on new challenges and jumping on opportunity as it arises. The lighthearted way she tackles her endless story-assignments-from-hell and her equally trying co-worker Emily, is hysterical. This girl is sassy and smart, and you’ll root for her to get everything she desires in both work and love.

Speaking of love, Yellin’s use of Nora Ephron’s big romantic films as a framework for the novel is brilliant. If you’ve ever swooned at Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, or You’ve Got Mail, you’re going to love this book. In fact, if you read carefully, you’ll find Molly literally reliving some very famous romantic comedy moments, and is it just me, or is Yellin’s description of Cameron oh-so-very Tom Hanks? Peppered with film references, the novel is a love letter to all things Ephron.

Staying true to her inspiration, Yellin is a master at witty dialogue and quick repartee. Some of the best moments of the novel are encompassed in the verbal sparring between Molly and Cameron. I couldn’t help but fall for this man who challenges Molly at every turn, yet loves her just as she is. I’d be exasperated with Molly for not seeing his potential sooner if I wasn’t so drawn into her wacky, roundabout journey to finding true love.

I absolutely adored this novel. Sure, it screams chick-lit and is a bit on the fluffy side, but sometimes all a girl really needs is a kickass pair of shoes, a fun metro setting, and a happily ever after. If you’re into romantic comedy and are looking for a lighthearted, fun read, grab a copy of What Nora Knew.



About Riki

Riki has a long-standing love affair with all things books and writing. She indulged her love for all things literary with a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and is currently studying at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Riki is an intern with Entangled Publishing and a member of SCBWI. She authors the blog Refreshingly Riki where the discussion is lively and no book goes unloved. She is the first-place recipient of the Arizona Authors Association Literary Contest and has been published on the virtual pages of and the actual print pages of the State Press. You can visit her at and follow her on Twitter (@missriki).