I kept wanting to like this book, but in attempting to do so much, it failed to move me. I found the love stories unconvincing and most of the characters as superficial as they time in which they lived (maybe that was the point?) I was particularly disappointed with the narrator. Her women were OK, but I cringed whenever she did men. They all had gnarled voices (it was impossible to imagine any of them as romantic figures) and her "Jewish" accents were hackneyed and embarrassing.
This book had all kinds of indicators in its description that made me think it was right up my alley. However, I just found it disappointing. I think the most obvious problem, as an audiobook, was the narrator. I'm sorry to say I found her delivery lacking. What really annoyed me was the way she read the voices for the male characters. It was so forced and artificial, I couldn't buy it. There was a male character who was an MIT-educated software developer, and he sounded like a whiny surfer dude. Why? This may be a cosmetic sort of criticism, but it really bugged me. The story itself I found to be "just okay," not awful, but not terribly gripping either. I didn't hate it.
The first chapter of this book I thought I was really going to like it. Then each chapter after was through the perspective of a new character. It got to the point that I didn't know who the main character was, who I cared about (if any of them at all) and maybe most importantly who the "cookbook collector" was... Honestly, there are so many characters it's kind of ridiculous to think we should remember all of them (or care about them), especially when listening to an audiobook and you don't have the ability to look back at previous chapters to figure out who's who . I find the author goes on tangents, which then causes me to lose my attention, only to find that when I start paying attention again I ultimately feel as though I haven't even missed anything. I would have stopped listening to this after the first few chapters but since I spent the money I forced myself to finish. I'm glad that I did finish as the second half of the book stayed more with one character which I found more interesting. Also, just a warning, eventually Sept. 11, 2001 plays a role with one of the characters and having lived next to the world trade center I wasn't prepared to go back to that date and the emotions from that day. It took me off guard and think there should be a warning... Overall, not a book I'd recommend.