- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (July 12, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385340869
- ISBN-13: 978-0385340861
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 217 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Cookbook Collector: A Novel Paperback – July 12, 2011
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“If you’re hankering for a feast of love, let yourself fall under the spell of Allegra Goodman’s abundantly delicious tale.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A modern take on Sense and Sensibility . . . a beautifully textured tale of two sisters that hits all the Jane Austen high notes . . . [Allegra] Goodman delicately navigates her characters’ complex emotions.”—People (four stars)
“The plot may be IPO-centric, but the novel is old-fashioned and wildly romantic.”—Time
“Goodman makes us care so much about each character and his or her individual story that the pages cannot turn fast enough.”—Los Angeles Times
“A novel of impressive élan and real emotional resonance.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Sisters find that love can be wondrously, or tragically, accidental. Ms. Goodman is a romantic realist who dazzles with wit.”—The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Allegra Goodman’s novels include Intuition and Kaaterskill Falls. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Best American Short Stories. She is a winner of the Whiting Writer’s Award and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.AllegraGoodman.com or become a fan on Facebook.
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The Cookbook Collector is a solid effort. There are, of course, aspects that one may criticize. I'll get mine out of the way. I thought it took quite a while to get going with too much scene-setting in the beginning and the development back-loaded. It could have done without some of the minor characters. The presentation of the late-90s dot-com world seemed a bit inauthentic. And I suspect that this book would have stood up just fine without the Rabbis.
But ultimately, I found the Cookbook Collector to be a thoughtful and multi-layered read. I was delighted by the archaic recipies worked into the text -- it reminded me of the recipe for preparing "pippins" that appears incongruously in the middle of Trout Fishing in America. I'd always wanted to see more like that, and here they are. The primary characters were well-drawn and grew, and that they did so partially in response to real events and not just pot-boiling made this novel more meaningful. There were flashes of clever humor and well-turned phrases. And it satified my most important metric -- giving me something that I continue to about after turning the last page.
I don't usually give five stars to contemporary midlist fiction; where would that leave Shakespeare or Faulkner (or whomever)? But this time I'm giving in to Amazon star-inflation so that perhaps others will not be as fast to surmise, incorrectly, that this is a weaker novel unworthy of their time.
I am a very big fan of Allegra Goodman's novels (the marvelous Intuition is one of her best), and I found that she hadn't missed a step with The Cookbook Collector. It is a slightly overstuffed but emotionally and intellectually compelling book that draws you in, even when all of the characters aren't wholly sympathetic ones. The book definitely picks up steam after the first third, because Goodman introduces so many different characters that you just want to get back to those with whom you've already become invested, but in the end, she ties everything together fairly well, although perhaps a little too neatly. I don't know if it was Goodman's imagery (much of the book is set in Berkeley, CA, and she describes the San Francisco area quite poetically) or the complexity of her characters, but I thought this book was beautifully written and very satisfying. A terrific example of storytelling.