Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: The Cookbook Collector

Author: Allegra Goodman
Publisher/Format: Dial Press (2010) Adobe E-pub
Subject: sisters, dot-com industry; book collecting
Setting: Berkley CA, and Boston MA
Genre: fiction
Source: library e-book download

Another e-book I thoroughly enjoyed, although I don't think I'd ever be able to read in this format exclusively.  I dislike being tied to a computer to read, and my eyes absolutely will not handle reading on a smart phone, so I sure hope that Santa gets the hint and there's a NOOK under the tree for Tutu.

This was a pleasant surprise - I didn't expect anything as deep as the story presented here.  At first, I was impatient.  The beginnings of the book were all about the relationship (such as it was) between two sisters who appear on the surface to be as different as apples and artichokes.  It was about the dot-com industry and greed, and people making enough money to finance a third world nation for several years.  I kept waiting for the cookbook part...and page 61, we finally got to a collector, but it took until page 162 to get some of the meat of the cookbook collection.

I was also fascinated by the similarity to another book I'd read recently - The Color of Water, in which the mother was disinherited by Jewish parents.  In this one the mother died when the girls were quite young, and the father has remarried and has pre-school twins.  Each of the older sisters is dealing with a romance that the reader may perceive as inappropriate and there are several peripheral relationships and stories going on in addition to the gorgeous story of the ancient, large, and eclectic cookbook collection which one of the sisters, Jess is hired to catalog.  The story of the books, the notes, the inserts, and the recipes themselves is just so much fun.

The plot could be called the standard boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl has other love interests, yada, yada, yada.  But the character development is much deeper than that and watching the love relationships of both the sisters is by far the best part of the book.  Imagine, a double romance with social studies, environmental issues, rare books, Jewish studies, women's relationships, high finance, and genealogy in addition to marvelous recipes.  It's a very satisfying book.


  1. Love your review! This sounds like a great book. This is a new-to-me book and it's going on my holiday wish list.

  2. I'm glad you liked this so much. I loved Allegra Goodman's book KAATERSKILL FALLS and have been looking for another one of hers to read. Thanks for the great review!


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