Hot Best Seller

The Cookbook Collector

Availability: Ready to download

Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. 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 fulfillme Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. 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: twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech; twenty-three-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.

*advertisement

Compare

Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. 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 fulfillme Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. 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: twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech; twenty-three-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.

30 review for The Cookbook Collector

  1. 4 out of 5

    K

    I was looking forward to listening to Allegra Goodman’s newest effort even though I was not a big fan of her last book “Intuition.” While I think the Jane Austen comparison is a bit over the top, I usually enjoy Allegra’s writing and I find her Jewish characters somewhat authentic or at the very least three-dimensional, which is unusual. My sister’s scathing review of this book did dampen my enthusiasm but I gamely put on my headphones and started listening, telling myself that I’m often less di I was looking forward to listening to Allegra Goodman’s newest effort even though I was not a big fan of her last book “Intuition.” While I think the Jane Austen comparison is a bit over the top, I usually enjoy Allegra’s writing and I find her Jewish characters somewhat authentic or at the very least three-dimensional, which is unusual. My sister’s scathing review of this book did dampen my enthusiasm but I gamely put on my headphones and started listening, telling myself that I’m often less discerning than my sister is and optimistically assuming that I would certainly enjoy “The Cookbook Collector” more than my previous audiobook, “Red Hook Road.” Besides, I love cookbooks so surely I would love reading about someone else who buys too many of them! Well not only did the story move at “Red Hook Road”’s plodding pace, but the characters and their machinations actually interested me even less, if that’s possible. I have to steal a line from my sister’s review – this is Sweet Valley High all over again, with one sister who’s capable and organized and successful and another who’s fun-loving and flaky. It’s different from Sweet Valley High in that the fun-loving sister is meant to be more lovable than the anal one but never fear, here too, both sisters have men dropping at their feet like flies. I need to hold myself back here from going on yet another rant about chick lit wish-fulfillment and boring, one-dimensional Mary Sue characters who are drooled on by all the men around them. Mmmmpppphhh! Mmmmppphhh! That’s me, putting virtual duct tape on my mouth. The book opens with the anal sister, Emily, giving her younger flaky sister Jess a gift of a designer suit. Okay. You’ve been sisters for 23 years. Why is it a surprise at this point that Jess, the bohemian graduate student, is not exactly enthused by designer suits? It wasn’t a surprise to me after just a few minutes of listening to the book. Is Emily so completely clueless about her sister? To add insult to injury, Emily proceeds to push Jess the struggling student into investing in Emily’s company but refuses to lend her the money. Wow, this older sister just gets better and better – she can spend money on a designer suit Jess won’t even like but refuses to lend Jess money for an investment that’s supposed to assure her future? Am I supposed to sympathize at all with this character and her self-absorption to the point of idiocy? This was pretty early in the book and I wasn’t particularly motivated to keep listening but I plodded on. So great, now we have George, the bookstore owner and Jess’s boss, who is – wait for it – secretly in love with Jess. George is another rip-roaring character – handsome, naturally, and also brooding and cynical and disenchanted with life though his grumpy exterior hides…oh, whatever. Allegra gives him a few eccentric quirks in an effort to make him three-dimensional and maybe likable, but sadly it doesn’t work. And then there were the bombastic “Bialystocker” Hasidic rabbis just desperate to recruit more Jews – ouch, I cringed every time they opened their mouths. Come on, Allegra, I found myself pleading, where are the cookbooks already? Give me a reason to keep listening! Well, several more (way too many, actually) unlikable characters and uninteresting subplots later, we finally arrived at the cookbooks. Isn’t halfway through the book a little late to introduce what the title suggests is a central theme? At this point, I was so disenchanted with the book that even the long-awaited cookbooks couldn’t revive my interest. Which is fine, because the cookbooks actually didn’t play a major role in the end. Instead, there was a whole lot of stuff about IPOs and start-ups and the dot-com bust, which don’t represent favorite reading interests of mine. And the subplot about Jess and the radical environmentalism – maybe I was spacing out too much (highly likely actually), but I never really understood the urgency of Jess’s camping out in a redwood tree. Now what could possibly make this bad book even worse? Well, how about a series of highly improbable coincidences and neatly tied loose ends? And throwing in a few hundred clichés? Some sappy declarations of love? Best of all – the highly original use of 9/11 as a literary device? Yup – this book has it all. For plot development, multifaceted characters, and literary style, I probably would have been better off reading an actual cookbook.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Britany

    This book was terrible! It felt like the author grasped for the most random topics and decided, Hey! I'm going to see if I can throw these together and create a masterpiece. I didn't enjoy it or get it. I was disappointed even by the title, which plays such a small part in the actual book. this book is about IPOs and startup technology companies during the technology bubble in the early 00's, throw in a little Jewish culture, a book collector, two sisters, tree savers, Oh, and if that's not enou This book was terrible! It felt like the author grasped for the most random topics and decided, Hey! I'm going to see if I can throw these together and create a masterpiece. I didn't enjoy it or get it. I was disappointed even by the title, which plays such a small part in the actual book. this book is about IPOs and startup technology companies during the technology bubble in the early 00's, throw in a little Jewish culture, a book collector, two sisters, tree savers, Oh, and if that's not enough lets also add 9/11. "Heralded by the NYT as a modern day Jane Eyre" Are you kidding?!?! I argue false advertising!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    Genuine, quirky and endearingly flawed As a Janeite, it is impossible ignore the siren call when an author announces to the book buying world that her new novel The Cookbook Collector is “a Sense and Sensibility for the digital age.” Whoa! My first reaction was “this is literary suicide.” Why would anyone want to equate themselves to a beacon of world literature such as JANE AUSTEN? It is impossible to know her personal motivations, but after a bit of online research, I can’t entirely blame Allegr Genuine, quirky and endearingly flawed As a Janeite, it is impossible ignore the siren call when an author announces to the book buying world that her new novel The Cookbook Collector is “a Sense and Sensibility for the digital age.” Whoa! My first reaction was “this is literary suicide.” Why would anyone want to equate themselves to a beacon of world literature such as JANE AUSTEN? It is impossible to know her personal motivations, but after a bit of online research, I can’t entirely blame Allegra Goodman for starting this avalanche. She seems to be the darling of the literary world ready to be embraced as “a modern day Jane Austen.” Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus all gave her starred reviews, and even those highbrow literary bluestockings The Washington Post and the New York Times beamed. Swept up in the momentum of online praise I succumbed to the unthinkable. I imagined, no, dare I say I hoped, “as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before” that my favorite author could be reincarnated in the modern day world and I could continue to read new works infused with Austen’s style, deft observations and biting wit. I will attempt to disarm reproof right up front. I read a lot of “popular” fiction written by women. Yep, that stuff that is sadly overlooked by the good folks at The New York Times. This book is technically classified as literature which is really out of my depth as a book reviewer, so I will review it through the prism of a Janeite. Set in northern California between 1999-2002 Goodman has mirrored elements in Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility including two sisters, Emily and Jessamine Bach, polar opposites in temperament and interests struggling with love, money and fulfillment in different ways. Twenty-eight year old Emily is the sensible, pragmatic older sister who graduated from M.I.T. and is the co-founder and CEO of Veritech, a start-up computer data-storage company in the Silicon Valley on the brink of going public (obviously the Elinor Dashwood character). Jess is a twenty-three year old idealistic Berkeley graduate student in philosophy committed to saving the environment and rushing heart first into life and romance (yep, Marianne Dashwood). She works part-time at an antiquarian bookstore named Yorick’s owned by George Freidman (Colonel Brandon without the flannel waistcoat), a first generation Microsoft millionaire who retired early and now passionately collects, filling his life with beautiful objects instead of people. Pushing forty, George is handsome, haughty and cynical, “hard to please, and difficult to surprise.” He and Jess do not see eye-to-eye on much of anything and their conversations turn to sparing matches over books, her tree-hugging philosophies and looser boyfriends (Leon, the Willoughby character). She cherishes books for what they can teach you. He values books because others want them and they are his. “[H]ow sad, he thought, that desire found new objects but did not abate, that when it came to longing there was no end.“ Emily has her own set of values and desires. She loves her high-tech job, money and power, and is continually postponing her wedding date to accommodate their consuming needs. She is in a bi-coastal relationship with Jonathan Tilghman fellow dot-com genius who is also in the start-up phase of his computer company in Cambridge, MA. She works long hours, dreams of marriage and children while her ambitions push her need to succeed over love. Emily has looked after her little sister Jess since their mother’s death from breast cancer thirteen years ago. Concerned over her finances Emily presses Jess to purchase her company’s family and friends stock offering for $1,800 telling her she must find the cash herself. Hesitant to tap her father for the funds, Jess connects with a local Bialystock rabbi she meets through a neighbor and secures a loan. He is altruistic, not expecting repayment claiming he is investing in her future and not to make money. On the first day of trading her sister becomes a multi-millionaire, but any of you who remember the roller-coaster stock market of the new millennium know where this story is going. The narrative moseys along through chapters of dot-com start-up details veering off on tangents with characters we don’t really need to know and do not care about until about half way through when George happens upon the rare book dealers Holy Grail. A large and incredible unique collection of old cookbooks stashed in the kitchen cupboards of a deceased Berkeley professor of Lichenology whose heir promised him never to sell, but is hard up for cash. Jess assists in wooing the quirky owner with a bit of intuition and psychology which pleases George, who has a new collection to add to his collection, but what he really wants to possess is Jess! Full of dot-com detail and an interesting juxtaposition of analytical verses intuitive personalities, my expectations for The Cookbook Collector were so high that half way through the book I needed to take stock and reassess. Like Austen, Goodman’s characters are genuine, quirky and endearingly flawed but she spent too many pages wavering away from the ones I wanted to know more about: Jessamine, Emily and the two men in their lives that I questioned where she was going and why this was important far too often. The most intriguing character hands down was Jessamine, and like Austen’s Marianne Dashwood she is whimsical, openhearted and trusting. You know that she is heading for a fall, but love her all the more for it. How Jess the tree-huger and George the dishy curmudgeon will eventually come together, and we do know from the start that they will, is as satisfying as a seven course meal at Auberge du Soleil. The Cookbook Collector is a romantic comedy with some social reproof stirred in for spice. It is rewarding if you have the patience for a bit of sideways adventure in the shallow high-tech dot-com world of ambitious risk-takers with mega-millionaire dreams. Goodman’s prose can be lyrical, alluring and very seductive. Interwoven are great moments of tantalizing descriptions of food and wine. I will never think about eating a peach again without remembering Jess and George. There are some unexpected twists and far-fetched coincidences that added surprise and whimsy, but crowning Ms Goodman the next Jane Austen? “[E]very impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” Laurel Ann, Austenprose

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    This was well-written and very readable and stood head and shoulders above most books with this plot. But therein lies the problem. I don't have a lot of interest in reading YET ANOTHER book about any of the following: 1) a pair of sisters, one of which seems to have it all together but has her life fall apart, and the other of which seems to be a flighty idiot but gets the HEA. (Other variations on this theme include a third sibling, either much older or much younger or male and therefore not im This was well-written and very readable and stood head and shoulders above most books with this plot. But therein lies the problem. I don't have a lot of interest in reading YET ANOTHER book about any of the following: 1) a pair of sisters, one of which seems to have it all together but has her life fall apart, and the other of which seems to be a flighty idiot but gets the HEA. (Other variations on this theme include a third sibling, either much older or much younger or male and therefore not important to the plot, or, ever so occasionally, the two women will be a single mother who had her child very young and a daughter.) 2) Overnight billionaires or really anything fictional having to do with IPO's. 3) Palo Alto, L.A., Silicon Valley ... let's be honest. With very rare exceptions, I'm tired of American culture being "set" in California. I want to read about people in Kentucky. And Arkansas. Idaho. Michigan. You get the drift. 4) People who aren't religious being pulled into a cult -- but wait! THIS CULT IS A GOOD CULT AND NOW I'VE LEARNED ABOUT GOD!!! My life is enriched! 5) People who are objectively rich (pursuing Ph.D's on their parents' dime with grant money and a part time job that involves reading books in the afternoon) held up as the "poor" one, so that we can pity the poorness that is living with roommates (in an amazing apartment in a wealthy city on a great block, natch) and choosing to eat only organic vegan food. If you've never been poor, I'm not mad at you. But don't try to make a case for understanding poverty that involves HAVING TO ASK (gasp!) MORE THAN ONE PERSON BEFORE YOU ARE ABLE TO BORROW $1800 ON A WEEK'S NOTICE TO BUY STOCK AT A FRIENDS-AND-FAMILY PRICE FOR AN IPO. That is not even on the same planet as poverty, and the fact that you think she's so sympathetically down-on-her-luck makes you kind of look like an asshole. 6) Grad students / Ph.D. candidates who have no study skills or interest in the subject matter of their program. There's more, but this review already makes it seem like I hated this book. And I didn't! I liked it a lot. But why is this a trend in books? Why is there only the one plot that people are capable of writing all of a sudden?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Meticulously boring, or perhaps boringly meticulous, this novel reminds me of why I usually don't enjoy literary fiction that takes place in the here and now. The protagonists are sisters Emily and Jessamine Bach, who live in California in the heady days of the dotcom boom. Emily is the chief of a hot new software company while her younger sister Jess whiles away her time as a moderately successful grad student in philosophy and the undervalued girlfriend of various patchouli-scented jerks. Emil Meticulously boring, or perhaps boringly meticulous, this novel reminds me of why I usually don't enjoy literary fiction that takes place in the here and now. The protagonists are sisters Emily and Jessamine Bach, who live in California in the heady days of the dotcom boom. Emily is the chief of a hot new software company while her younger sister Jess whiles away her time as a moderately successful grad student in philosophy and the undervalued girlfriend of various patchouli-scented jerks. Emily is protective of Jess, since they lost their mother young, but Jess just wants to make her own mistakes. Then of course there are plenty of other characters--their remarried father and his new family, Emily's high-flying boyfriend who has his own dotcom, and George, an ex-Microsoft millionaire in whose quaint antiquarian bookshop Jess "works" several days a week. George is the one who buys the cookbook collection of the title, which Jess ends up cataloging. The first problem with this book is that the privilege of the characters is described in a way that struck me as laughable, even though it is sort of my own milieu.Orion was the one Emily knew well. He had been Emily's childhood friend when, for several summers, they attended CTY, the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins. At eleven, twelve, and thirteen, they took courses in physics and advanced geometry along with other children selected nationwide. Emily had studied Greek and Orion took astronomy...By the way, this is less than half of the paragraph in question, and there's lots more like it. The tone--the narration veering seamlessly into an advertising brochure and then back out--is just odd. Another problem is that Goodman is drawing lines between food and love, the pleasure in eating and sex, feeding someone and caring for them, that strike me as having been done before. It's well-written and evocative, but still manages to be dull. Finally, there is a fair amount of material here about the software projects of Emily's and her boyfriend's dotcoms that I simply didn't buy. Maybe Goodman has done enough research to fool most readers, but I found myself repeatedly thinking that the projects described were childishly simple or incomplete--not a plausible way to save up for a $125K engagement ring, at any rate. (Indulge me in a parenthetical nitpicking complaint: For all this book's straining towards erudition, neither Goodman nor her editor nor her copyeditor knows that the singular of "biceps" is ... "biceps"? Didn't they teach English at CTY?) I'll concede some good points. Looked at from the point of view of having finished the novel and no longer being bored by it, I liked the characters of the sisters, and I liked the confluence of Jess's interests in philosophy, nature, and Jewish mysticism. The ending turns out to be fairly satisfying. I'm not sure I'd seek out another book by this author, though.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gary the Bookworm

    Allegra Goodman is a wonderful writer but I wish publishing marketeers would stop hailing her as a contemporary Jane Austen; it does them both a disservice. You could argue that marriage is at the center of The Cookbook Collector and that moral questions drive the plot, but it is a stretch to find many more parallels to the unique world of Jane Austen.What Goodman does provide is a mostly rewarding portrait of her heroines and their contrasting world views. Jess is the intuitive idealist and her Allegra Goodman is a wonderful writer but I wish publishing marketeers would stop hailing her as a contemporary Jane Austen; it does them both a disservice. You could argue that marriage is at the center of The Cookbook Collector and that moral questions drive the plot, but it is a stretch to find many more parallels to the unique world of Jane Austen.What Goodman does provide is a mostly rewarding portrait of her heroines and their contrasting world views. Jess is the intuitive idealist and her big sister, Emily, a rational-and wildly successful-business woman, wants to shape and protect her. People have compared them to the Dashwood sisters from Austen's Sense and Sensibility but the world Jess and Emily inhabit spans two continents and encompasses an endless array of secondary characters. It is a struggle to keep track of everyone and the more I read the harder it became. I think this would have been more successful if she had narrowed her focus and used her considerable skills as a writer to more fully flesh out the main characters and their extended families. I think Jane Austen would agree. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]

  7. 4 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    Audio book performed by Ariadne Meyers I admit I was seduced by the cover of this book, just as one of the characters is seduced by the possibility of scoring a rare book find. But unlike the character, I should have just said, “No.” Goodman is apparently a talented writer of short stories (based on reviews and articles I’ve read), but this novel really misses the mark. She’s combining three (or four) plot lines to form this larger work, and as a result, none of them is satisfactorily explored. Th Audio book performed by Ariadne Meyers I admit I was seduced by the cover of this book, just as one of the characters is seduced by the possibility of scoring a rare book find. But unlike the character, I should have just said, “No.” Goodman is apparently a talented writer of short stories (based on reviews and articles I’ve read), but this novel really misses the mark. She’s combining three (or four) plot lines to form this larger work, and as a result, none of them is satisfactorily explored. The most interesting story line to me was that of the title – the cookbook collector. But I was kept waiting for ages before this story appears, then it’s dropped in favor of a story following the dot com explosion of the late 1990s. Of course once you get involved in that story you’re yanked back to the cookbook collection. ARRRGH. I’d read some reviews that seemed to compare this work with Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility …. Well … there are two sisters, one of whom leads with her heart while the other relies on her head. But the similarity ends there. Goodman’s dialogue is tortured, while Austen’s sparkles with wit. Ariadne Meyers did an acceptable job of narrating though she had a tendency for the male characters to use either a deep growl or a sort of stoned-out hippie teen voice.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pickle Farmer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I didn't read the last 100 pages of this, just skimmed it, but I'm still counting this as read since we discussed it in my book club. On the last page it says something about how the main female character sold her engagement ring. "Wow, I was so happy to read that part!" I said to my fellow book club members. "So did she end up leaving that totally dick guy?" "No," they replied, "he died in one of the planes on September 11th." ...... Well, *that* certainly changed the way I thought about the bo I didn't read the last 100 pages of this, just skimmed it, but I'm still counting this as read since we discussed it in my book club. On the last page it says something about how the main female character sold her engagement ring. "Wow, I was so happy to read that part!" I said to my fellow book club members. "So did she end up leaving that totally dick guy?" "No," they replied, "he died in one of the planes on September 11th." ...... Well, *that* certainly changed the way I thought about the book! I really enjoyed the first 200-300 or so pages of this that I read--it was very light and easy to digest, like eating a cup of yogurt before dinner as opposed to a heavy lump of bread (as Joyce or Piglia might feel like, for example--not that there's anything wrong with bread! There's just a time and a place for it). But then the book started to annoy me more and more, and by the end of my book club meeting, I officially didn't like it. My main beef with it is the following: *WHY* are female characters only ever fulfilled by the men they end up with? FUCK that being the object of a woman's quest! Why does Christopher McCandleless get to fuck off to Alaska while girls just marry older men? This is seriously starting to piss me off more and more. By the novel's end, Jessamine, the hippie vegan character, doesn't figure out whether she wants to finish her PhD in philosophy, continue working for the nonprofit Save the Trees, or what. Instead, she just gets married and works for her husband. She doesn't find herself or become clearer about her identity... she just gets a MAN. Because really, isn't that all us ladies really need? BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT. Shoot me in the vagina now, please.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Dreadful. I'm going to bookclub this arvo and I'm looking forward to tearing this to shreds. The characters were implausible and as were their relationships - they were caricatures rather than characters. This story might make for a Hollywood script, but not a novel. The relationship between Jess and George was deeply problematic and the attempt by the author to remedy it with light-hearted banter about the 'inequality' between them fell way short. Actually it made it worse. When a man follows y Dreadful. I'm going to bookclub this arvo and I'm looking forward to tearing this to shreds. The characters were implausible and as were their relationships - they were caricatures rather than characters. This story might make for a Hollywood script, but not a novel. The relationship between Jess and George was deeply problematic and the attempt by the author to remedy it with light-hearted banter about the 'inequality' between them fell way short. Actually it made it worse. When a man follows you in his car for hours, after you've told him to leave you alone, it's not romantic. It's predatory and stalker-ish. This book contains too many characters and sub-plots. What was the point of Orion and Sorel? (and this relationship was completely unbelievable. What's more, Sorel was male fantasy...) The 9.11 plot smelt like opportunism...seemed like a very handy way to tie things up. For audiences outside the US, the whole Jewish American thing is not interesting. My eyes glazed over and by the time I got the end of the book I had no idea who anyone was. Actually by the time I got to the end of the book I started skipping pages. Marriage as a conclusion? Seriously? Marriage and weddings made sense in Jane Austen's novels....it's about context. I thought Jess was a vegan tree-hugger.... and I'm sure she mentioned something about the patriarchy at the beginning too. This was just an offensive attempt by the author to give Jess some depth, when actually all Goodman wanted to do with marry her off happily ever after. Forget your politics Jess, forget your PhD, just get married. And marry someone 16 yrs older than you who talks to you as though you're a child. Yay for women's liberation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ciara

    this is another one of those novels that is entertaining enough while i'm reading it, but when jared asks for a plot synopsis, i realize that it's completely ludicrous (see also: a gate at the stairs by lorrie moore). emily is the CEO of an internet start-up specializing in online data storage. jess is emily's younger sister, who is a student working at a used & rare bookstore. george owns said bookstore, & is a millionaire in his own right due to a youthful turn working for microsoft. t this is another one of those novels that is entertaining enough while i'm reading it, but when jared asks for a plot synopsis, i realize that it's completely ludicrous (see also: a gate at the stairs by lorrie moore). emily is the CEO of an internet start-up specializing in online data storage. jess is emily's younger sister, who is a student working at a used & rare bookstore. george owns said bookstore, & is a millionaire in his own right due to a youthful turn working for microsoft. these characters live in the bay area. jonathan is emily's boyfriend/fiancee. he has also started an internet start-up, specializing in online security systems. he lives in boston. emily & jess's father also lives just outside boston with his new wife & their two young daughters. emily & jess's mother died of cancer when they were very small. they never really knew her. the book opens with emily's company about to go public. emily has listed jess as someone who is allowed to buy one hundred advance shares of friends & family stock at $18 a share. she basically forces jess to buy the stock, even though jess doesn't just have $1800 sitting around. so, right away, things get off to a ridiculous start. i can't even imagine someone saying, "drop $1800 on stock options. JUST DO IT." like i have that kind of money. i especially can't imagine jess's solution to the problem: she doesn't really get along with her father, so she doesn't ask him. she asks george (via an advance on her paychecks), but he says no on the grounds that he has no guarantee that she'll keep working for him until the loan is paid back. so she asks this jewish mystic dude who happens to be her downstairs neighbor's guru. o...kay. also, jess starts dating this kind of creepy, charismatic tree-sitting activist named leon. he wants her to overcome her fear of heights & sit in a redwood with him, but she's too scared. george is super bummed about this development, because he's secretly in love with jess. one of the programmers at emily's company develops this fingerprinting technology & wants to use it as an application to basically bundle spyware into their data storage systems. emily is horrified because it violates her ethics. she refuses to allow it...but she does tell jonathan all about it, & jonathan grapples with the fact that he now has this awesome money-spinning idea in his hands, with all the resources to execute it, if only it weren't a violation of his finacee's trust. george is approached by a woman who has a collection of cookbooks to be appraised. george is really impressed by the collection & buys them. he enlists jess to help catalogue everything, & her work on the cookbooks inspires jess to write some kind of supposedly brilliant treatise on the development of taste & culinary desire through the history of british cooking or something. while working on the catalogue, jess & george start to fall in love. when the internet companies go public, at first they do really well & everyone is a millionaire. jess idiotically donates her family shares to the stupid tree-sitter jerks & doesn't pay back the mystical rabbi dude. he doesn't seem to care too much. but eventually the stocks start to lose value & jonathan in particular panics. he suggests the digital fingerprinting idea to his colleagues & they love it. his friend orion, who is slowly falling in love with his co-worker sorel, who moonlights as a twelve-foot bride street performer (ugh), even though he has a live-in doctor intern girlfriend, volunteers to head up the division. i don't know what the fuck he thought the digital fingerprinting was going to be for, but he is PISSED when he finds out that they want to contract it out to the government at the expense of civil liberties. there's an upcoming tech job fair in L.A., & jonathan decides to head out there with mel, the head of HR, whose wife is a disciple of the same jewish mystic sect to which jess owes money. isn't that convenient? naturally, the job fair is on 9/11 & jonathan & mel are on the first plane that crashes into the twin towers. emily is crushed. she feels that if she would have just agreed to marry him sooner & move to the east coast, he never would have flown to L.A. & been killed. at his memorial, she learns that he brought the digital fingerprinting idea to his company & they are running with it. she realizes he betrayed her, & that she betrayed her programmer by sharing the idea with jonathan in the first place. also in attendance at the memorial is the boston jewish mystic family that mel's widow is so into. the wife in the family sees jess & emily & asks if they are goulds. they say no, their mother's maiden name was gold--gillian gold. the woman is all, "oh my god, that's my older sister gittel, who abandoned the family when i was a baby & changed her name & ran away to marry a non-jewish man! you are my nieces!" which they are. which also makes them the nieces of the jewish mystic family in the bay area to which jess continues to owe $1800. oh, & also? the boston mystics live right across the backyard from jess & emily's dad in a boston suburb, because mel bought the house when he made a shitload of money off his company going public, & then barbara donated it to the family as a jewish mystic community center after mel died. VERY CONVENIENT. emily & jess confront their dad about keeping this big secret from them & he insist that their mother never wanted them to know, that she found her upbringing horribly oppressive & never wanted her daughters to know her family. but they're all, "you should have told us anyway!" really? why? sorry, i just don't think family is THAT important. if jared had some deep dark secret he never wanted our children to know...i would not tell our children. the end. it's not really their business. anyway. slowly, emily recovers from jonathan's death & the news of his betrayal. discovering her mother's secret & visiting with her new relatives inspires her to start a new geneaology start-up. jess & george get married in some hippie dippy ceremony officiated by the dude jess owes money to. she pays him back times ten, thanks to george being rich. orion quits his company & abandons his fingerprinting project when he finds out the company plans to sell it to the government for use in anti-terrorism stuff. he also dumps his girlfriend & takes up with the twelve-foot bride. is that everything? probably not. this book has too many goddamn characters. i don't even know which one is supposed to be the titular cookbook collector. i found all the 9/11 painfully tacky. there were too many coincidences, too many conversations that did not seem to display an understanding of the way real people actually talk, too many pat little witticisms, & everything was spread so thin, i never really got deeply invested in any particular character or plotline. this wasn't a terrible book...but i'd recommend saving yourself the trouble & giving it a pass.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I finished The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman this morning after staying up late, shirking kid duty in the morning in order to read in the tub, and pushing my weekly breakfast with Dad back a half-hour so I could read the last 20 pages. I just loved it. I hadn't read Goodman's previous books, but knew of her reputation, and I liked the cover, so I brought the galley home.Reading at first with my usual caution for the unfamiliar, I was quickly drawn in. As the story unfolded I became more I finished The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman this morning after staying up late, shirking kid duty in the morning in order to read in the tub, and pushing my weekly breakfast with Dad back a half-hour so I could read the last 20 pages. I just loved it. I hadn't read Goodman's previous books, but knew of her reputation, and I liked the cover, so I brought the galley home.Reading at first with my usual caution for the unfamiliar, I was quickly drawn in. As the story unfolded I became more and more involved in the characters, their lives, their predicaments, their preoccupations - to the point that I was blissfully of their world. This is what I read for: the sense that I am within the novel, and when I am done, that book is within me. Needless to say, not all books live up; some I have forgotten as soon as the last page is turned. The Cookbook Collector, however, will be within me for a long time. When it appears in paperback next year, I will not have forgotten Jessamine & George's enviable romance or Jonathan's betrayal of Emily and the fate that befell him. I so look forward to selling this book to my customers - in hardcover and paperback alike. In the meantime, I may well read it through again, to catch the bits that fell through the cracks of sleepiness or distraction!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Candace Burton

    Sometimes a book starts out so brilliantly that reading it is a fantastic voyage, only to be brought up short by a less-than-stellar conclusion. Goodman has managed to turn that paradigm inside out, composing a novel so startlingly quiet at the beginning and so stunningly well turned out at the finish, that the conclusion doesn't seem at all posited by the beginning. Jess and Emily are a pair of semi-orphaned sisters whose mother died when they were small, and whose father has remarried and had Sometimes a book starts out so brilliantly that reading it is a fantastic voyage, only to be brought up short by a less-than-stellar conclusion. Goodman has managed to turn that paradigm inside out, composing a novel so startlingly quiet at the beginning and so stunningly well turned out at the finish, that the conclusion doesn't seem at all posited by the beginning. Jess and Emily are a pair of semi-orphaned sisters whose mother died when they were small, and whose father has remarried and had two more much younger daughters--his second family. Jess and Emily are radically different and radically the same: one the head of a very successful startup, the other a grad student in philosophy who works part time in a book shop and lobbies to save the redwoods. Both are a little lost in the world, and the story of how they both ultimately get found is Goodman's unifying thread. Toward the end of the book, one of the sisters suffers an immense tragedy, and Goodman's depiction of what that experience feels like is perhaps the truest I have ever read. As is her resolution thereof. You'll come away from this book convinced that humanity is largely insane, barbaric, and hugely flawed--but also mystical, enchanting, and generally worth keeping an eye on.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Allegra Goodman scores again. I thought Intuition was very good, and this one is similar in that it features clever, fully drawn figures who weren’t afraid to play up their erudition. The sisters, representing Sense and Sensibility as my wife explained to me, were both likable, but in different ways. My only complaint about the book was that elements of the plot seemed slapped together with coincidence and cheap glue – not altogether worthy of the characters that were profiled so well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Usha

    I've finished only the first few chapters, and as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I am amazed at the author's insightful description of a tech startup - though that is only one of the angles in the book. Enjoyable read so far, especially on a wet December afternoon!

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    I don't think Allegra Goodman should be blamed because some critics have anointed her a "new Jane Austen"; no author in her right mind would welcome the inevitable comparisons that go with such a designation. A surprising number of goodreads reviewers appear to have taken the bait, and chastised Ms Goodman for not actually living up to the hype. Quite a few objected to the particular reader who did the audio-book. This doesn't seem completely fair. The Cookbook Collector is a decent, but flawed, I don't think Allegra Goodman should be blamed because some critics have anointed her a "new Jane Austen"; no author in her right mind would welcome the inevitable comparisons that go with such a designation. A surprising number of goodreads reviewers appear to have taken the bait, and chastised Ms Goodman for not actually living up to the hype. Quite a few objected to the particular reader who did the audio-book. This doesn't seem completely fair. The Cookbook Collector is a decent, but flawed, novel. The two main protagonists, sisters Emily and Jess, are well-developed, interesting characters, and Goodman does a good job of making us care about what happens to them. Other characters are less convincing. In particular, neither of the sister's love interests came to life in a credible way -- both seemed little more than an assortment of tics/stereotypes. Plotting was more than a little predictable, and using the 9/11 attacks as a plot resolution device seems regrettably lazy. On the plus side, Goodman writes convincingly about the dot.com culture and is often quite funny. But ultimately, there is too much of an air of wish fulfillment about the story to make it much more than a pleasant, but forgettable, read. But, what do I know? According to the Wall Street Journal, this book is Sense and Sensibility meets Pride and Prejudice in Y2K U.S.A.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole R

    Let me tell you what this book is not about: a cookbook collector. It's not even really about food. I think my rating would have been higher if I would have been better prepared for the lack of relevance of the title. Sisters (that should have been the title of this book), Jess and Emily Bach are sisters who are extremely different: Emily is the highly successful CEO of a technology company while Jess is pursuing a PhD at Berkeley and moonlighting as an environmental activist. This is a compariso Let me tell you what this book is not about: a cookbook collector. It's not even really about food. I think my rating would have been higher if I would have been better prepared for the lack of relevance of the title. Sisters (that should have been the title of this book), Jess and Emily Bach are sisters who are extremely different: Emily is the highly successful CEO of a technology company while Jess is pursuing a PhD at Berkeley and moonlighting as an environmental activist. This is a comparison of 1) how they deal with the death of their mother from their childhood, 2) their respective love lives, and 3) how they generally live their lives. Honestly, there was a small part of a cookbook collector but I wanted WAY more about that aspect; plus, I felt like there was this whole subplot about religion and hasidic Jews that was completely under-developed. Ultimately, I truly enjoyed Goodman's style of writing, and I didn't dislike the book, per se. I was just very uninvested in the storyline for the majority of the book and felt like it was utterly predictable that I found myself passively reading. The ending got much better but it was too little too late to save it from a mediocre rating.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Having never read an Allegra Goodman novel, I was pleasantly surprised. This novel got excellent reviews and they were well earned! I love this book. The book is set on both the west and east coast and to someone from the south, these may as well be foreign countries! I especially loved the Berkeley setting and Yorick's (the bookstore which plays a pivotal role in the story). The sisters, Jess and Emily, are wonderful characters and are so disparate in their views of their deceased mother. Little Having never read an Allegra Goodman novel, I was pleasantly surprised. This novel got excellent reviews and they were well earned! I love this book. The book is set on both the west and east coast and to someone from the south, these may as well be foreign countries! I especially loved the Berkeley setting and Yorick's (the bookstore which plays a pivotal role in the story). The sisters, Jess and Emily, are wonderful characters and are so disparate in their views of their deceased mother. Little do they both know about this woman! The business part of the story is terrific and really adds to the story. I have to say that the parts about the tech start-ups are some of my favorite parts of the story. The only drawback is the romance in the story, not being a big fan of romances, I found this to be a drag. If you enjoy romance, then there is nothing in this book to dissuade you - enjoy!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be! It's the story of two sisters with opposite personalities (similar to Elinor and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility) and their numerous friends, lovers and relatives. The novel begins during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, takes us through its bust and, eventually, 9/11. (By coincidence, I read the 9/11 portion of the novel on the anniversary of 9/11, which was very moving.) The heart of the book involves an antiquarian bookseller and a my What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be! It's the story of two sisters with opposite personalities (similar to Elinor and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility) and their numerous friends, lovers and relatives. The novel begins during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, takes us through its bust and, eventually, 9/11. (By coincidence, I read the 9/11 portion of the novel on the anniversary of 9/11, which was very moving.) The heart of the book involves an antiquarian bookseller and a mysterious collection of rare cookbooks, which was my favorite part of the story. I will happily recommend this novel to friends.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Sisters Emily and Jess lost their mother when at a young age. Now as adults they’ve chosen completely different life styles. Emily is the co-founder of a successful dotcom business. Jess is an eternal student, working in a bookstore and campaigning for eco rights in Berkley. The characters and premise are interesting, but the problem is Goodman can’t decide whose story she wants to tell. She starts with the two sisters, but she quickly gets side tracked by their friends, family, lovers, co-worke Sisters Emily and Jess lost their mother when at a young age. Now as adults they’ve chosen completely different life styles. Emily is the co-founder of a successful dotcom business. Jess is an eternal student, working in a bookstore and campaigning for eco rights in Berkley. The characters and premise are interesting, but the problem is Goodman can’t decide whose story she wants to tell. She starts with the two sisters, but she quickly gets side tracked by their friends, family, lovers, co-workers at the dotcom company and bookstore, etc. Soon she’s juggling so many story lines that it’s hard to care about any of them. Just as you would get interested in one plot, the story would abruptly switch over to a completely unrelated group of people. We kept leaving the sisters’ stories and going into everyone else’s lives. First it was Emily’s boyfriend Jonathan and his dotcom company with his friend Orion. Then it was Orion’s crush on a co-worker, then Jess’ new boss George, then a rabbi that Jess meets; you see how things could get a bit muddled. I also was not a fan of the title. One of the many subplots follows a woman who is selling her deceased uncles’ rare collection of cookbooks, but that wasn’t even one of the main story lines. It made me think the book was about a homemaker and her love for baking or something and I don’t think it fit the book at all. Frankly I think I would have enjoyed the entire book a lot more if the software companies’ plots had been completely axed. The most interesting story lay with Jess (not her tree hugging tendencies) and her relationship with her sister, the bookstore where she worked and George. Unfortunately there were too many distracting subplots. I think it would have made a better short story collection. There were some wonderful characters, they just needed their own space to shine. BOTTOM LINE: It was off to a good start, but the novel loses itself when it tries to tell too many stories at once. I would be willing to try something else by the author in the hopes that her future work is a bit more focused.

  20. 4 out of 5

    M

    Sometimes you read a book and feel as though you've made a new friend. And sometimes you feel as though you are trapped in an elevator - of your own volition, no less - with the single most annoying person (or people) ever created. I hated this book from start to (why did I bother?) finish. I would love to tell you what it was about but frankly, I have no idea. Let's see. There are two sisters - Emily and Jess (cue Sweet Valley neat and tidy opposites as per responsible, fortune 500 Emily and rag Sometimes you read a book and feel as though you've made a new friend. And sometimes you feel as though you are trapped in an elevator - of your own volition, no less - with the single most annoying person (or people) ever created. I hated this book from start to (why did I bother?) finish. I would love to tell you what it was about but frankly, I have no idea. Let's see. There are two sisters - Emily and Jess (cue Sweet Valley neat and tidy opposites as per responsible, fortune 500 Emily and raggedy but somehow so lovable bohemian Jess). Hm. Right ok so Emily has an obnoxious boyfriend, Jonathan, who has no redeeming features, is a typical slimy go getter, yet everyone is enamored of him. They are going to get married but in the meantime he is also backstabbing her with his competitive business venture. This goes basically nowhere. Ok then Jess, right, so she works at a bookstore. Its owned by a really irritating arrogant jerk who ends up falling in love with jess, after two other men do in rapid succession. He, George, collects valuable things. He finds old cookbooks. It seems to be important but then it goes nowhere. Then enter the rather thinly disguised Lubavitchers ("Bialystockers") who do nothing to move the um plot? forward but end up being related to the sisters (you really got to stretch it here). WHAT THE HELL WAS THE POINT? And if my review sounded constipated and juvenile, then you can imagine what reading 200 plus pages of that was like.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kasey Jueds

    My fabulous friend Grace gave me The Family Markowitz a long, long time ago, and until this one it was the only Allegra Goodman I'd ever read. I'm often skeptical about contemporary fiction, even literary fiction; so many novels seem more like fairy tales to me, and I suppose I'm more interested, at this point in my reading life, in what my former kindergarten students would call "true books." I get a bit annoyed with the happily-ever-after kind of fiction that seems to dominate these days. So, My fabulous friend Grace gave me The Family Markowitz a long, long time ago, and until this one it was the only Allegra Goodman I'd ever read. I'm often skeptical about contemporary fiction, even literary fiction; so many novels seem more like fairy tales to me, and I suppose I'm more interested, at this point in my reading life, in what my former kindergarten students would call "true books." I get a bit annoyed with the happily-ever-after kind of fiction that seems to dominate these days. So, with that being said, The Cookbook Collector is a kind of fairy tale, and I loved it anyway. Partly because of the gorgeous physical details--descriptions of books, trees, food, clothes, and two places I particularly love, the San Francisco bay area and Cambridge, MA. And there are wonderful characters here, who seemed very real to me in spite of some of the fairy-tale things that happen to them, plus a mystery at the heart of the book that's very compelling. A couple of things got tied up too neatly at the end, but that's a minor complaint. All in all, this is a smart and beautiful and pleasure-filled read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Callie Miller

    I loved the part about the cookbook collection - the discovery of it, the archiving of it, the fascination with the collector, who we was and what all his ephemera meant. Everything else - the dot.com bust, IPO's, 9/11, corporate secret-stealing, Save the Tress activism and faux-activism, standard sister issues, the newly discovered family that was strangely attached to money, all felt like a thousand kitchen sinks thrown in to take us off the trail...but off the trail of what? The core of the s I loved the part about the cookbook collection - the discovery of it, the archiving of it, the fascination with the collector, who we was and what all his ephemera meant. Everything else - the dot.com bust, IPO's, 9/11, corporate secret-stealing, Save the Tress activism and faux-activism, standard sister issues, the newly discovered family that was strangely attached to money, all felt like a thousand kitchen sinks thrown in to take us off the trail...but off the trail of what? The core of the story - the cookbook collection - didn't need anything else. All these things just served as a terrible distraction to it and, for me, the full story of exploring the collection (and the relationship that developed because of it) suffered. I also suspect that since the dot.com stuff was and still is very much a part of my daily work life, it didn't feel authentic to me at all. Many plot points were obvious from the moment they were introduced and, ultimately, I didn't care about these people. I really cared about that cookbook collection though...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    Sometimes the good thing about partaking in a reading challenge is that it makes you push your boundaries and read a book you normally wouldn't - I read the Cookbook Collector for just that reason. I'd seen it previously in stores, but it just never gained by attention enough that I read it. However, I'm glad that I did. Its a marvelous story about learning who you are and finding your place in teh world, about living each day as it comes and not putting off today what can be done tomorrow. I hi Sometimes the good thing about partaking in a reading challenge is that it makes you push your boundaries and read a book you normally wouldn't - I read the Cookbook Collector for just that reason. I'd seen it previously in stores, but it just never gained by attention enough that I read it. However, I'm glad that I did. Its a marvelous story about learning who you are and finding your place in teh world, about living each day as it comes and not putting off today what can be done tomorrow. I highly recommend it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    There is a LOT of detail in this book, sometimes too much, especially as related to cookbooks, California flora, and the world of high tech start-ups. I had heard from friends – including the one who gave me the book after not making it past the 100th page – that it was this level of tech detail that had turned them off. And I can see that. I actually found myself strangely drawn in by that aspect even as I tired of the cookbook and horticultural lore. That said, I didn’t necessarily find the hi There is a LOT of detail in this book, sometimes too much, especially as related to cookbooks, California flora, and the world of high tech start-ups. I had heard from friends – including the one who gave me the book after not making it past the 100th page – that it was this level of tech detail that had turned them off. And I can see that. I actually found myself strangely drawn in by that aspect even as I tired of the cookbook and horticultural lore. That said, I didn’t necessarily find the high tech stuff believable. One incident in particular that occurs early on – the declaration of a newly hatched program – and that comes to play a key role throughout the novel, rang false throughout. I simply didn’t believe that something quite so monumental could be discussed quite so casually or that it could be unique in the world of computer programming. And you need to believe that in order for the plot to work. The other part of the plot that irritated me was the use, and I do mean “use” of 9/11; you can see this coming from the very beginning because the chapters are laid out in chronological parts, with each assigned a date range. You know that 9/11 is going to factor into Part 7 and you start to dread how this is going to happen the more you read. It’s not that I think that 9/11 is sacred in some way and that novelists shouldn’t talk about it; indeed avoiding it would be obvious and weird under certain circumstances. But making it do all kinds of symbolic work in a novel is also irritating, as if things unrelated to 9/11 wouldn’t have happened without it. I’m not sure if this is the novelist’s way of attempting to make a novel be epic and speak about a generation or a cultural moment – it seems likely that this is Goodman’s intent here – but if so, it comes across as a little bit clunky in this rendering. It did the work of solving the plotting problems that she had built up for herself. And in so doing those problems were “solved” by 9/11 in a way that then made it seem as if the changes were about that tragedy and about that time in U.S. history. And this is a stretch. In short, hitching the plot to 9/11 almost does Goodman a disservice because she’s not allowing the meanings of her story to speak on their own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons, but let me start by addressing the negative reviews. This is literature. By that, I mean it is not a chapter by chapter page turner to keep you guessing. Instead, it is a commitment to a story and character development that is deeper than most popular books for which many readers will lack the patience or understanding. Plus, its setting is very specific. The dot com bubble was a very real period in our cultural and economic history. For anyone I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons, but let me start by addressing the negative reviews. This is literature. By that, I mean it is not a chapter by chapter page turner to keep you guessing. Instead, it is a commitment to a story and character development that is deeper than most popular books for which many readers will lack the patience or understanding. Plus, its setting is very specific. The dot com bubble was a very real period in our cultural and economic history. For anyone too young to remember or who simply wasn’t paying attention, the subject matter may be lost on them. That doesn’t make it a bad book- it just means it isn’t for everyone. Also, the author does not propose that this is akin to Sense and Sensibility. Clearly, this was some marketing idea proposed by someone at the publisher. And it’s a bad idea. I love Austen, but this story is not a modern retelling nor should readers think of it that way. I loved the book. It addressed two very important aspects of my own life. I’m an avid reader who majored in liberal arts studies in college. I’ve also spent time in Berkeley. On the other hand, I entered the profession of investments in 1998 right before the bubble burst, so I remember what things looked like then. And it has guided me as I enter my 20th year in the area of personal finance. Lastly, this author is skilled. Her writing is descriptive without being weighed down and flowery. Her character descriptions are well-done without overdoing the detail. I felt like I knew them. They are flawed but real, and I liked them all for their unique characteristics. If you have the time and patience, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Sisters Emily and Jessamine ("Jess") Bach couldn't be more different. Emily, who feels a responsibility to watch over her younger sister, is the tech-savvy CEO of an internet startup company, while Jess is a dreamy, romantic graduate student in philosophy and a passionate environmentalist, who has no desire to follow a straight-line path as her sister does. The Cookbook Collector follows the Bach sisters from 1999-2002, as well as their family, friends, coworkers and even two Hasidic rabbis, as Sisters Emily and Jessamine ("Jess") Bach couldn't be more different. Emily, who feels a responsibility to watch over her younger sister, is the tech-savvy CEO of an internet startup company, while Jess is a dreamy, romantic graduate student in philosophy and a passionate environmentalist, who has no desire to follow a straight-line path as her sister does. The Cookbook Collector follows the Bach sisters from 1999-2002, as well as their family, friends, coworkers and even two Hasidic rabbis, as they fall in and out of love, deal with crises in work and life, and ponder questions of trust, sacrifice, family and following your heart. What is actually valuable, the characters wonder: a company's stock, a person's promise, a forest of redwoods, or a collection of rare cookbooks? I am a very big fan of Allegra Goodman's novels (the marvelous Intuition is one of her best), and I found that she hadn't missed a step with The Cookbook Collector. It is a slightly overstuffed but emotionally and intellectually compelling book that draws you in, even when all of the characters aren't wholly sympathetic ones. The book definitely picks up steam after the first third, because Goodman introduces so many different characters that you just want to get back to those with whom you've already become invested, but in the end, she ties everything together fairly well, although perhaps a little too neatly. I don't know if it was Goodman's imagery (much of the book is set in Berkeley, CA, and she describes the San Francisco area quite poetically) or the complexity of her characters, but I thought this book was beautifully written and very satisfying. A terrific example of storytelling.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)

    As an Austenesque Addict that enjoys devouring every Austen-related novel that she can find, I have to admit that The Cookbook Collector is not a book I would normally read. It is only because the author was proclaimed to be “a modern day Jane Austen” and her latest novel, a modern day Sense and Sensibility, that this contemporary fiction novel found a place in my to-be-read pile. Similar to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, this novel opens by introducing two very diverse sisters. Emily Bach As an Austenesque Addict that enjoys devouring every Austen-related novel that she can find, I have to admit that The Cookbook Collector is not a book I would normally read. It is only because the author was proclaimed to be “a modern day Jane Austen” and her latest novel, a modern day Sense and Sensibility, that this contemporary fiction novel found a place in my to-be-read pile. Similar to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, this novel opens by introducing two very diverse sisters. Emily Bach, at the age of twenty-eight, is the CEO of a new start-up company called Veritech. Responsible and rational Emily is involved in a long-distance bi-coastal relationship with her boyfriend Jonathon, who is working on his own dot-com start-up. Working in the same competitive field, both Emily and Jonathan struggle with selfishness, intimacy, and trust. Emily's younger sister Jess is a twenty-three year old student pursuing a graduate degree in philosophy, an active participant in the Save the Trees organization, and a vegan. Jess works part-time in a rare and antique book store owned by George Friedman, a wealthy, erudite, yet querulous bachelor. Unbeknownst to Jess, George is often consumed with thoughts of his innocent, free-spirited, and lively young employee... To continue reading, go to: http://janeaustenreviews.blogspot.com...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is a reread for me. I liked it better the first time. I reread this for a book club. As I began it, I remembered that I had gotten confused with the multitude of young brilliant men with amazing eyes and limitless futures. I also didn't get the difference between the start ups, the IPO's. I hoped that this time I'd get it, As I read this on my Kindle, I was able to easily underline parts which would help me distinguish stars, like Orion, and his satellites, Molly and Sorrel, and their compa This is a reread for me. I liked it better the first time. I reread this for a book club. As I began it, I remembered that I had gotten confused with the multitude of young brilliant men with amazing eyes and limitless futures. I also didn't get the difference between the start ups, the IPO's. I hoped that this time I'd get it, As I read this on my Kindle, I was able to easily underline parts which would help me distinguish stars, like Orion, and his satellites, Molly and Sorrel, and their companies Veritech And ISIs. If you're lost; I think it doesn't matter. Goodman was probably sying that they were interchangeable in many ways. Some of the characters, Jess, George and McLintock are special. They love beauty. Other characters, Leon and Jonathon are just users. Emily is conflicted. The best parts of this novel, for me, are the hot and juicey descriptions of the food George would like to prepare for Jess. Jess and my husband didn't care for George in the beginning because he is a collector and and doesn't share naturally. Yet when he finds a good woman, his tough outer shell is pared away and his center, like an artichoke is, well I can't finish the metaphor, but you get my point. It's worth the effort. The Cookbook Collector is a picnic. It's light and tasty.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robin Cicchetti

    The intriguing title and gorgeous cover art were enticing, and the laudatory reviews comparing this to the work of Jane Austen made it a must read. What a disappointment. Two sisters, Emily and Jess,are making their way in the harsh world of the dot com bubble. Their mother died when the girls were very young, leaving nothing expect a stack of letters to each of her daughters, to be opened upon their birthdays. This thin device seemed to accomplish little more than navel gazing. Emily is a workaho The intriguing title and gorgeous cover art were enticing, and the laudatory reviews comparing this to the work of Jane Austen made it a must read. What a disappointment. Two sisters, Emily and Jess,are making their way in the harsh world of the dot com bubble. Their mother died when the girls were very young, leaving nothing expect a stack of letters to each of her daughters, to be opened upon their birthdays. This thin device seemed to accomplish little more than navel gazing. Emily is a workaholic whiz kid is launching her own hot high tech company in the halcyon days of the late-1990's of gazillion dollar IPO offerings. Her hapless sister, Jess (short for Jessamine), works in a rare book shop, is involved with a radical save-the-trees cult, and is botching her attempts at finishing her PhD in philosophy. Both girls, and a rather eclectic group of friends, family and Bialystoker Jews form a ragtag community that carry the story on their backs through to 2001 and the events of 9/11. Heartbreak,romance and a bit of betrayal fail to breath life into the life of Emily and Jess. This was a well written but trite read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Minakshi Ramji

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I am really surprised at the excellent reviews received by this book. I only bought it because it was supposed to be a modern Sense and Sensibility. It was an unbelievable let-down! The first few chapters had very prettily-structured ending sentences almost as if they were short stories but that's the best thing I can say about this book. I feel like all books that have even the slightest reference to food or cooking receives an immediate two thumbs up from everyone ("a sensual lyrical journey i I am really surprised at the excellent reviews received by this book. I only bought it because it was supposed to be a modern Sense and Sensibility. It was an unbelievable let-down! The first few chapters had very prettily-structured ending sentences almost as if they were short stories but that's the best thing I can say about this book. I feel like all books that have even the slightest reference to food or cooking receives an immediate two thumbs up from everyone ("a sensual lyrical journey into blah") and yet most people don't know how to write about food. For instance, Allegra Goodman has a vegan getting all hot and heavy about recipes about meat which makes no sense. The love stories are not that interesting -- you feel nothing for jessamine or emily and a bollywood-esque reference to a jewish rabbinical family which ends up being the long lost family of the two central characters (sorry for the spoiler but you DO NOT want to read this book) and lots of references to other books -- not references which are subtle, but literally she lists out hundreds of books that completely unrelated to this book... And it ends very unsatisfactorily.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.