When the American screenwriter and film director Nora Ephron died last year, I shared my thoughts about her life here on the blog. Perhaps best known for popular romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless In Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, she was also a talented and witty essayist, journalist and novelist, with many interesting things to say about life, love and divorce.
She was also the oldest of four sisters, and two, Delia and Amy, grew up to….also be authors and screenwriters! Another sister, Hallie, is a novelist and journalist!
Isn’t that so often the way? Talents so often run in families, although whether they pass down the genes or simply arise from the environment surrounding children as they grown up, I couldn’t say. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.
The sisters’ parents were both – you guessed it – screenwriters and playwrights!
Delia’s latest work, Sister Mother Husband Dog (Etc.), is a collection of essays exploring her life and views on everything from life in the city to dogs. One essay sets out her feelings about the death of her older sister.
Earlier this week, Delia appeared on HuffPost Live to talk about the book. During the course of the interview, talk turned to her first marriage (like Amy, she has been married twice, while Nora was married three times).
Delia told the interviewer:
“You have to divorce someone if they’re crushing your dreams. That is just a given.”
Delia’s first husband, a university professor, didn’t like the idea of his wife becoming a writer, she remembered.
“And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want you to be famous. Suppose you become famous.’ So I said, ‘I promise I won’t be famous.'”
‘Crushing your dreams’ –it sounds terribly dramatic, doesn’t it? Almost as bad as having an affair, perhaps, or having a screaming row over the dinner plates every night. But actually, the destruction of dreams can be a subtle process, a slow chipping away at cherished goals year after year. Slow, subtle and easy to miss. Some people go for years without ever realising what has happened. And then one day, realisation arrives like a lightning strike and they realise just how unhappy they are, perhaps decades down the line into their dysfunctional marriage.
So I say kudos to Delia, for realising that she and her first husband were not going to work – for the simple and far-reaching reason that he did not respect her dreams. Nora’s younger sister moved on and she has now been married to her second husband for an impressive 31 years.