Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times best-selling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers and listeners. Now, in her most ambitious work yet, Goodman weaves together the worlds of Silicon Valley and rare-book collecting in a delicious novel about appetite, temptation, and fulfillment.
Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: 28-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech; 23-year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriends, not so much—as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.
Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: 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 stays.
©2010 Allegra Goodman (P)2010 Random House
"If any contemporary author deserves to wear the mantle of Jane Austen, it’s [Allegra] Goodman, whose subtle, astute social comedies perfectly capture the quirks of human nature. This dazzling novel...is Goodman’s most robust, fully realized and trenchantly meaningful work yet.” (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of Goodman's lovely, nuanced novels have a treat in store with this tale of two sisters." (Entertainment Weekly)
"Goodman is remarkably successful in creating rich, engaging characters and a complex story of love and identity." (Library Journal)
I have never taken time to review an Audible selection, but The Cookbook Collector really kept me listening and as the end approached it left me wanting more. Ms. Goodman interweaves multiple storylines with luminous writing. Well worth the expenditure of a credit and the investment of time to listen.
I can't get past the quality of the reader who seems intent on making every young female character a squishy, saccharine ball of 12 year old enthusiasm. The male characters are worse.
I remember Allegra Goodman from "Intuition", which I thought was a darker, more deeply layered novel than "The Cookbook Collector". I thought Goodman's first novel had more mystery and more seriously conflicted characters, and the core group was science-based instead of the technology startup boom in 2000, not that the latter observation is enough in itself to blame or praise a novel. However, I found this novel overdone with "stuff" - overstuffed? - just way too filled up with things: technology, money, cars, rare books, clothes, food, "happiness", whatever that means, and of course all the brand names that go with all the stuff. The pairing of the "hot" old wealthy guy (loaded with brilliance, musical and culinary talent in addition to dollars) with the naive young girl with no visible means of support is just another 2010 version of an old, tired cliche. I also thought the old guy seemed a bit shallow - and of course he's toned and fit because of his daily runs - in spite of his diverse interests. The only thing that really saves the ending from terminal triteness is that no-one ends up pregnant to celebrate their new romance. But I could not give the book anything less than a five just because reading it felt like eating too much chocolate cake, despite the story line that deals sensitively with the pain and losses of 9/11. It's still really well-done. I just liked "Intuition" better.
The narrator has a quirk which takes some getting used to. I guess in an effort to add authenticity to dialogue, she pauses a bit, hesitates after reading the first word of a spoken sentence, as though the person is unsure of what he/she is saying, or is thinking out loud. It seems that too many of the characters speak this way, and after I noticed it, of course it bothered me even more. There is one character with severe anxiety and here perhaps the tic is appropriate, but for the most part the verbal patterns did not need to be there.
The Cookbook Collector was a delicious listen. Goodman draws an array of characters with tremendous empathy. The narrator plays the female parts convincingly, although she portrays the male characters with a more uniform voice.
The book is brilliant but the narrator's voice more befits a romantic novel vs. this one. I agree with another reader that the male voices all sound the same, NY City Jewish accent.
Honestly, I got to Chapter 7 of this book and just couldn't tolerate the narrator's voice any more. She attempts to use different voices and accents for different characters, and most of them are poorly done. However, even more annoying than that is her own voice for the narration of the story which had my teeth constantly on edge. As a result, I don't think I gave the book itself a fair chance. It just wasn't worth my sanity to try to go any further.
Life is Amazing! Live Well.
As usual Allegra Goodman pays attention to the details and surprises us to the end with characters that are real and imaginative. The reader took a bit to get used to but after the first chapter I liked her interpretation of the different characters--it actually helped me track the details!! A surprise and thought-provoking ending.
I loved the main characters, and I really wanted to like this book, but it moved too slowly for me: I prefer audiobooks with a quicker pace. Still, the characters are well-developed, and the narrative structure is interesting and effective.
Love the book.., although it was sometime predictable.., the characters and the story are well written.., a lot of romance and computers but it also reflects the dot com era that was lived by my generation
While there are important themes touched upon here, there is almost nothing at stake for the characters, minimal interesting conflict (even between distinctly different sisters) and virtually no memorable insights.
It would play best in animation, a Saturday morning cartoon of "lost girls finds themselves."
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