Despite being focused on food, the Foodies Read Challenge provided quite a bit of diversity. I read books that included cannibalism, a book that was a thinly disguised memoir, and stories that hinged around death. Some of these books made me hungry. Others, not at all (pickled wolf’s heart anyone?). Continue reading
Despite the somewhat whimsical title, The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman is anything but. Instead, it’s a finely wrought, detail-rich story about dot.com start-ups, relationships and a collection of old and rare cookbooks.
The blurb reads:
“Two sisters, opposite in every way: twenty-eight-year-old Emily is a CFO of an internet start-up, twenty-three-year-old Jess is a graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily’s boyfriend is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriend is an environmental activist. But the dot-com bubble must burst, while Jess’s work on a cache of rare cookbooks uncovers strange erotic drawings and marginalia that bring her closer to their mysterious collector… Rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel of substitutions: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that lasts.”
This surprising book had been sitting in my TBR stack for quite some time – I had dismissed it as ‘middle-aged-chick-lit’ (mum-lit?) and was waiting for the right time to tackle it – it’s quite hefty at 417 pages. What I didn’t expect was a Franzen-esque style story – beautifully detailed characters, complex histories (but carefully incorporated into the story at appropriate times) and multi-layered plot lines. Goodman probably HATES the Franzen comparison but since finishing this book I have also read lots of reviews that draw Jane Austen comparisons. Continue reading