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August 18, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

HEARTBURN by Nora Ephron (Vintage: $11, 179 pp.). Rachel Samstat, the narrator of this comic novel, believes her marriage to Mark is nearly perfect. She writes cookbooks; he's a columnist. Although they live in Washington, D.C., rather than New York, life seems good--until she discovers Mark is having an affair with Thelma Rice, who has "a nose as long as a thumb and you should see her legs."

Rachel alternately tries to salvage her marriage and plot revenge, pausing to offer recipes for key lime pie and vinaigrette. Her story may amount to an extended yuppie kvetch, but it's a funny kvetch. Rachel's friend Julie sums up her generation's attitude toward marriage when she remarks, "We hang on, and if it doesn't work, we try again with the next one."

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