Review: ‘Left on Tenth’, a funny, poignant and magical memoir | book reviews

After the death of Delia Ephron’s husband, she wrote a New York Times article about the battle to reactivate her internet service after Verizon disconnected it with her late spouse’s landline.

The humorous op-ed about Ephron’s hellish encounter with the phone company elicited many responses, including a sympathetic email from a man she had briefly dated in college more than half a century ago. previously.

Ephron’s late husband, Jerry, a writer like her, had been her soulmate for more than three decades before he died in 2015 of cancer. His correspondent, Peter, was a Jungian psychiatrist living in Northern California.

Widowed and 72 years old, Ephron and her new suitor quickly fall in love with each other over email and then in person as they embark on a belated journey exploring love, friendship, sickness and loss.

The funny, poignant, and sometimes magical memoir is an open look at afterlife and what Ephron calls left turns that can be perilous or wonderful.

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A perilous turning point was the death of Ephron’s dog, Honey, his last bond with Jerry, and their long marriage together.

But there is also a lot of enchantment.

A wonderful turn came as Ephron and his new love watched a solar eclipse in an Oregon field, feeling like members of a cult as they joined others wearing special goggles to protect their eyes. They bought a ping pong table to make Ephron’s New York apartment their own.

Dealing with life-threatening cancer changed the way Ephron saw things as she embraced her friendships, from the tall hairdresser with Rastafarian braids, to a couple in Wales and the young women in California she calls her ” daughter-friends”.

Ephron was the second of four daughters born to screenwriters. Later a screenwriter, essayist, novelist and playwright herself, Ephron co-wrote the 1998 romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail,” with her sister Nora. Most recently, she published “Siracusa,” a 2017 New York Times bestselling novel about marriage, friendship, and deception.

By the time she met Peter, Ephron had long known she could catch the disease that killed Nora in 2012. She was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia just four months after the couple’s first kiss and their bond grew. immediately deepened.

Eventually, Ephron underwent a bone marrow transplant that gave him another chance at life.

Once she recovered, Ephron marveled at her good luck.

Lucky her internet broke, she wrote about it, Peter read about it, and he wrote to her.

Lucky that she found the doctor she needed and got her diagnosis and treatment at the right time.

Then finally what she considered a miraculous return from the edge of the abyss. And have the chance to write again.

Alycia R. Lindley