Every Sunday this summer, we’ll bring you a curated selection of recommended reads as part of our 100 Days of Summer series.
The last two years have been an emotional rollercoaster for author Delia Ephron. Her husband, screenwriter Jerome Kass, passed away in 2015, and her third novel, Siracusa, a relationship drama set in Sicily, was published last July to great acclaim. It went on to become a New York Times bestseller, and the clever and engrossing book has just been released in paperback.
Delia Ephron wrote the screenplays for hit films You’ve Got Mail and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and collaborated with her sister, the late author and screenwriter Nora Ephron, on many projects (including the hit off-Broadway production Love, Loss, and What I Wore). The author recently chronicled her A.M.L. (acute myeloid leukemia) diagnosis (the same disease that took her sister’s life) and new love affair for The New York Times’ Modern Love column. She’s now in remission.
She spoke with Domino about her favorite books, summer vacation plans, and newfound bliss.
What are your favorite bookstores in the world?
There is a darling one in Monmouth, Wales. However, I love all bookstores. I think each is a miracle, and I am grateful for anyone and anyplace that sells something as wonderful, magical, and transporting as a book.
What are you currently reading?
I am reading The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn, which is hysterically funny and provocative about a couple who decided to have an open marriage. And I’m rereading Reckless Years by Heather Chaplin. It’s a memoir about love, divorce, and a breakdown, that is shocking, disturbing, and thrilling.
Do you read off a Kindle or hard copy? Day or nighttime reader?
Hard copy. Afternoon and night, more night.
What’s a book you keep coming back to?
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I read it every year and sob.
What are your summer travel plans?
My husband and I just rented an apartment in San Rafael, California right over a bakery, a bookstore, and a hair salon. I am hoping to spend a lot of time here. It’s beautiful.
How long had the idea for Siracusa been percolating? Why base this book in Sicily?
Years ago, I mean years and years, a therapist said to me, ‘what we think of as chemistry is really psychology. That two people falling in love across a crowded room is just each spotting their own perfect neurotic match.’ I’ve always wanted to take that idea into a novel about marriage—and then I was in Siracusa in 2002 in the old section, which is almost entirely stone because the Romans knocked all the trees down in BC and never put any back. The first day there I thought, this is a stone paradise. The second day I thought, If I don’t get out of here, I’ll go mad. At that instant, I knew I would set my marriage book there—two couples (and a child) on vacation in Siracusa where the lies and betrayals all bubble to the surface and the child becomes a catalyst for catastrophe. It took me years to write, and of course I had to visit Siracusa many times.
What’s next for you?
Siracusa has been bought for film by Working Title and Alfonso Gomez Rejon is attached to direct. I finished the first draft, and now I am working on a screenplay for Meg Ryan to direct. It’s a romantic comedy based in the publishing business, and called The Book.
How has your illness changed the way you write/read/love?
I have no idea yet how illness has changed me, although I know it has. I still write, read, and love.
How has being married again changed your perspective?
I’m too happy to know.