Christina Patterson: Can we have what she had? Nora Ephron's legacy
IT’’S lucky for all of us that Nora Ephron didn't have big breasts. "If I had them," she wrote in an essay in 1972, "I would have been a completely different person." If she had them, or I suppose we must now write if she had had them, we might not have had the fearless journalism, the sparkling columns, the moving memoirs and the romantic comedies, and the one in particular that's still among the best.
"I'll have what she's having," says the woman in the diner in When Harry Met Sally and who, looking at Ephron's astonishing career, wouldn't? We might, it's true, not be quite so keen on the miserably married parents, whose screaming rows were the backdrop to her childhood. We might think a mother who tells you that "everything is copy" and then decides to use your childhood as copy for her own play isn't quite the start in life we had in mind.
But that lesson shaped her life. Ephron's screenwriter parents – they wrote There's No Business Like Show Business and Carousel – might have held back on the cuddles, but they certainly knew how to get their daughters to write, and fight. All four became writers.