Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sister Mother Husband Dog, (etc.) by Delia Ephron

Delia Ephron, author of the essay collection, Sister Mother Husband Dog, (etc.) would probably appreciate my reactions to her book. First, I liked it better than her sister, Nora's, collection,  I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. I liked it better because I could relate to her question, "With sisters, is the competition always marching side by side with devotion?" And, because I could understand that statement, I reached out to my sisters to tell them about the book.

It's obvious that Delia was still struggling with the pain of losing her sister, Nora, when she wrote this book. The book begins with Nora and circles back to her. As the oldest and the most famous of the four Ephron sisters, Nora seemed to dominate the relationship with her younger sister. But, as Ephron points out, she was raised to be a writer, to put everything out there, and she shares her feelings and relationship with her sister, even when she's not sure how she should feel.

Ephron's essays are not all about her sister, but Nora and Ephron's mother are the dominant figures in the collection. And, she's careful to point out that these are her feelings, based on her relationship with her mother, and not necessarily the feelings of her sisters. Delia talks about the feelings of the daughter of alcoholics, and the daughter of a demanding mother.

"Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog." Ephron covers all those topics. However, my favorite chapter was "Blame It On the Movies." I can live with her comment, "Housecleaning is only worth doing to the pointt hat the place is clean enough that no one notices it's not." And, as much as I could relate to Ephron's comments about sisters, love, and competition, it's this chapter that I wanted to share with my sisters. Nowadays, women sometimes complain that Disney movies give their daughters the wrong idea of romance and happily-ever-after. Delia Ephron blames her lost twenties on a movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I howled when I read this chapter. She goes on and on for pages, telling the entire plot of the movie she has seen over thirty times. "I was young and vulnerable and innocent when I first saw Seven Brides. I took my heart into that theater and lost it." I called my sisters. What girl of a certain age didn't lose her heart to that movie? My sisters and I shared it. We may have all been looking for those good-looking men in that movie, but, unlike Delia Ephron, none of us wanted to be the servant to seven men. It's a hilarious chapter for anyone who saw and loved that movie.

Delia Ephron's book, Sister Mother Husband Dog, (etc.),  is beautifully written, with her trademark wit and turn of phrase. It will make you think with your heart. It made me reach out to laugh with the sister I could reach last night, and my Mom. It did what the best books do. It drew me into her world, and made me see mine a little differently.

Delia Ephron's website is

Sister Mother Husband Dog, (etc.) by Delia Ephron. Blue Rider Press. 2013. ISBN 9780399166556 (hardcover), 240p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book


Beth Hoffman said...

Oh, this sounds so good! Your review is terrific, Lesa, and though I don't read much non-fiction, this book is definitely going on my list.

Wishing you and the kitties a happy weekend!

Lesa said...

And, a happy weekend to you, Beth! Mailing something to you tomorrow that should make a happy week when it arrives.


Karen C said...

Great review. I don't have sisters so I'm not sure I can relater. Still sounds interesting!

Karen C said...

Hmm - should be 'relate', not relater!!

Lesa said...

Gotcha, Karen! Don't you hate it when you hit send, and then find your mistake?