Kathleen's Reviews > The Cookbook Collector

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
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's review
Apr 16, 2012

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Read in April, 2012

I wanted to read this because I'd heard it was based on Sense and Sensibility, which it is in the characters of Emily and Jessamine Bach, and as it is a comedy of manners. The book is set mostly in Berkeley, but also around Cambridge, MA. Goodman shows her skills as a researcher, and her knowledge of Silicon Valley in the late 90s and a few years thereafter, of the history of cookbooks and of wine impressed me. Jess does end up with an older man (as does Marianne in S&S), but Emily finds out the truth about her fiance, who conveniently dies on 9/11/2001. At his memorial service, Emily learns the truth about Jonathan:

"The last time I saw Jonathan, we were in a meeting and I felt, as I sometimes did, that I had to rein him in. I said, 'The climate is challenging right now.' He said: 'The climate's history. The point is where we're going.' He was already thinking ahead. Six months ago, even nine months ago, he thought his way into a new space.....He had no idea then how important his new plan would be--a new system for data tracking."

Others heard a tribute to Jonathan's indomitable spirit. Emily understood that he had stolen her information, appropriated and built a version of electronic fingerprinting.

So he's the Willoughby figure, no Edward Ferrars.

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