Carly Thompson's Reviews > The Cookbook Collector

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
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Aug 15, 10

bookshelves: 2010, contemporary-fiction
Read from August 10 to 14, 2010

A good but not great book. Loosely modeled after Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, The Cookbook Collector is the story of two sisters, Emily and Jess and their friends and family during the dot-com boom and bust of the early 21st century. Emily is modeled on Elinor Dashwood and is responsible and pragmatic, a CEO of a tech start-up who lives ethically in a cut-throat world. Jess is idealistic and dreamy, devoted to the environment while she pursues a PhD in philosophy and works in a rare book store. Goodman weaves in the sisters' boyfriends and realistically depicts the tech industry and the money crazed days of the dot.com bubble. I liked the story and the richness of the characters and thought the novel's strengths lie in its depiction of the struggle between acquisition and ethics in various modern situations. The parallels between this novel and the Austen novel are not perfect, only three of the main characters (Emily, Jess, & George, the Colonel Brandon influenced character) really correspond to their Austen counterparts. The similarities lie in both novelist's interest in depicting the mores of a moneyed society. I liked the book and enjoyed it but I never felt passionately about the characters or situations.
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