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The Cookbook Collector

December 2, 2010

Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: The Dial Press
416 pages
ISBN: 9780385340854
Source: Bookstore

Jess and Emily were born from the same parents but that seems to be the only point of mutual reference for either girl.

Emily is the math and business guru, running a start up software company in the nineties. She’s engaged to a man with similar powers and they are both ready to take on the world. She is poised, proper and put together, even in the middle of the night. She has no time for daydreams and is constantly annoyed by her younger sister’s antics and lack of, what she perceives as, drive.

Jess is working on her graduate degree in philosophy at no alarming speed. She is perfectly content discussing Spinoza and Locke as she dreamily drifts through her studies and the rare books store that constitutes her part-time job. She’s lucky if she has one hair in place at any time of day but she’s happy and whimsical and free. Her only hang up is her older sister, breathing down her neck to “do something” with her life.

Of course, the girls have more in common than either one perceives. As the story winds through the dot-com boom and the majestic back drop of Muir woods, they find their lives melting together and even morphing into similar paths in completely unexpected ways. Concepts of defining love, clarifying importance and seeking out what truly matters, make this book a worthy read.

Alright, all things considered, I loved this book but only in concept. I loved Jess and her slightly Nabokovian boss, George. I loved their relationship through books and time and philosophy. Their story, which seemed, fairly separate from the other strands in the book, seemed to flow and entice, where the rest just dragged. I can not, for the life of me, understand why the other strands of religious cults, stock bombs and luke warm activism were half heartedly thrown in.

The book, itself would have been perfectly wonderful, had Goodman simply stuck to the meat of the mystery surrounding the book collecting. I think I’m judging this, too harshly because I’m neck-deep in Possession and that story is just a headlong, breathless rush into the world of romantic academia and it works. The Cookbook Collector, I fear, just tries to take on too much. Each story, needed its own book and I simply felt that it was rushed and shallow.

The writing flows well and, as mentioned, the other story lines were not terrible; I just think they felt crammed and rushed and not altogether tied in, in such a way that made it clear as to why they were all smooshed together. Now, the book, itself, is a light, easy, read that, if you are not bogged down in one storyline, wishing for more, may be pleasingly fun. I enjoyed the book, in parts, so I don’t want to bash it; it just left me a little bit wanting, sadly.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2010 9:44 am

    Most of the reviews I’ve read of this book have been kind of meh, so I think you’re probably with the majority.

  2. December 2, 2010 12:35 pm

    Oh, based on your review, I am not sure I would really like this one. It sounds like there are some aspects of the plot that are just unnecessary and strange. I think I will probably just skip this one, but I thank you for your thoughtful and well written review!

  3. December 3, 2010 2:17 pm

    we SHOULD hang out 🙂

  4. December 3, 2010 3:29 pm

    This sounds like a take it or leave it book…in which case I’ll probably leave it. Sounds like I need to read Possession, though!

  5. December 6, 2010 11:53 am

    My friend Karen just read and enjoyed this!

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