Nora Ephron died a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t realize what an impact it made on me and just how truly great she really was until a few days later when I was watching my favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail (as I do several times a week). Since then I have been reading about Nora Ephron’s life; the way her words impacted others, the things she wrote that inspired many and the very specific way she defended the fanciful side of life.
In the movie Kathleen Kelly, the owner of the Shop Around the Corner tells Joe Fox that when you read a book as a child become it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does. If we were discussing movies that had this impact on our life, You’ve Got Mail would be that for me. Sometimes I wonder if Nora knew what she was doing when she set out to write You’ve Got Mail. Did she consider that little girls who were only nine years old when it came out would still be claiming it as their favorite movie fourteen years later? Surely she had an inkling.
There are things about this movie that have shaped the things I love most. It’s the enchanting way that Kathleen Kelly skips through the streets of New York thinking about bouquets of newly sharpened pencils. The way daisies are described as the friendliest flowers. The way the characters wonder about the insignificant things happening all around them; like the way the flour lingers in the air without ever touching the ground or how ordering a tall decaf cappuccino can give one a defining sense of self. And of course, the way New York is portrayed as a small town, like everyone knows each other, like they’re all friends and everyone is always welcome wherever they go.
What I love most about this movie though is the villain that doesn’t really exist. Joe Fox is the enemy but is also the person that Kathleen trusts. She can’t stand him but she defends him when he doesn’t come through for her and even better, her friends defend him too. The ‘big bad Fox Books’ ultimately takes the win over the Shop Around the Corner but the victory of Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox seeing each other for the first time in front of the garden at River Side Park remains the brightest spot.
There are things in this life that make us feel right at home even when we are far from it. So thank you Nora Ephron for creating something that will always seem familiar to me. Thank you for writing quirky characters like Kathleen Kelly, who was a lone reed, who worried about being brave, but who was ultimately the heroine of her own life. Thank you for living a truly inspiring life yourself and for letting us be a part of it through your love of the written word.