Despite Her Poor Health Due to Cancer, Della Ephron Manages to Overcome It and Find Her Way to a Happy Ending.

Like the romantic comedies, Ephron penned with her sister, Nora Ephron, the famed novelist, director, and screenwriter of “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” the narrative behind Delia Ephron’s current book, “Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life,” began pleasantly.

However, the delay that extended out Ephron’s joyful ending — the sine qua non of the narrative cliche that is The Marriage Plot — was so disastrous that if she had sold the story to a studio executive, they would have dismissed it as too much, too over the top. Even for one of Phoebe and Henry Ephron’s four children, the witty screenwriter pair behind “Carousel” and “Desk Set.”

The scene was set against a tragic loss. Nora Ephron died of leukaemia in 2012, shocking the world since she had kept her protracted illness hidden from everyone save a few close friends and family members.

Delia Ephron’s husband of almost three decades, Jerome Kass, a theatre, film, and television writer, died of prostate cancer three years later. Ephron penned an essay for The New York Times over a year later on what happened after she removed his landline.

It was a biting portrait of modern life and widowhood, complete with haphazard encounters with call centre operators and the eye-crossing rage that wrestling with technology can elicit.

Many people, including Peter Rutter, a widower from England, were moved by the essay.

He was a Jungian psychiatrist who, like Delia, had a falling out with a phone company following the loss of his husband. A half-century before, they had gone on a few dates. He claimed that Nora Ephron had set them up, despite the fact that Delia Ephron had no recollection of their (chaste) interactions.

Rutter wooed Ephron in this fashion, email by email, and after a few weeks of powerful contact, they met in person, and their epistolary relationship bloomed into the real thing.

“Love Story” had morphed into “You’ve Got Mail.” But, unlike Ali McGraw’s doomed character in that sluggish 1970s melodrama, Ephron had no intention of retiring peacefully. She battled like a madwoman to stay alive, and “Left on Tenth,” published by Little, Brown on April 12th, is her story of that harrowing encounter.

To steal a word from her Jungian spouse, it’s a medical thriller, a cancer memoir threaded together with a love tale, and a hero’s journey to boot. Except for two heroes: Ephron, who crossed the threshold of death, and Rutter, her staunch champion, who followed her.

“There are so many extraordinary things that happened, and there’s no logic to explain them,” Ephron said. Nonetheless, they happened to me, and I’m a fairly ordinary person.”

Ephron was at home in her lovely East 10th Street apartment on a bright afternoon in mid-March. (The title of the book is “Left on Tenth,” which is how she would lead visitors to the duplex.) She looked energetic and Manhattan-stylish in sleek black slacks and a black top, now 77 and cancer-free for two years.

She was slender like Ephron, but not skeleton as she had been for months. And quite capable, as she proved when she sprang off the pale blue sofa. She had been too weak to walk without a walker for months after she had returned home from the hospital.

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