Jane's Reviews > The Cookbook Collector

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
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's review
Feb 12, 2012

really liked it
Read from February 05 to 11, 2012

This was exactly the book I needed as I recovered from my knee replacement. It's a novel that centers around the relationship between two sisters whose relationship is defined by the fact that they lost their mother when they were young. Jess was five; Emily, ten. Their relationships with each other, their father, their friends and lovers is the widening web that creates the novel. One of the things I loved was the way in which varying interests, careers, and passions help create our sense of who this web of characters are. There is the Silicon Valley world of the late nineties, the world of Berkeley with its independent bookstores (mostly gone now, says my son who attended school there six years ago), book collecting, Judaism, the environmental movement--particularly the "Save the Trees" movement, food, and money. Money: the pursuit of, the inability to handle, the rapid accumulation and loss of,each of the character's relationship to it plays a significant role in the book.

I found out more that I ever wanted to know about tech start ups, but I could have lived in George's world of book collecting and Jess's world of philosophy and literature and cookbooks for even longer. This book caught me and gave me a world in which to live while my own world narrowed to pain and my house. I'd like to send a thank you note off to the author. During nights when I woke and couldn't sleep again, these characters became my world, a much happier one than the one I often found myself inhabiting. Thank you for these characters and their complex lives and the way they came alive for me.

this describes Jess at her wedding: "She had a high threshold for happiness, a straightforward, trusting nature when it came to joy." A character you can't help but love, and she isn't too good to be true, although almost.
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