The Cookbook Collector
A NovelBook - 2010
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.
From the critics
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My husband moved to Fredericksburg thirteen months before I did. The three-hour commute between our two worlds birthed my obsession with recorded books. Even though we now share only one home, the obsession remains. Once I began listening to The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman, I became so engrossed in the story that I looked for any reason to drive…indefinitely.
The title character—the cookbook collector—plays only a minor role, but one around whom all others orbit. Tom McClintock was a renowned lichenologist who filled his somewhat reclusive life with cookbooks, both obscure and valuable. Upon his death, McClintock’s estate is inherited by his niece Sandra. In need of money to help her daughter gain custody of her children, Sandra approaches used/antique bookstore owner, George Friedman, about purchasing the entire collection. George agrees to review the cookbooks and brings along his free-spirited clerk, Jessamine Bach, for assistance. George very seldom displays anything but his gruff side, yet he secretly pines for the lovely Jess.
Jess hasn’t quite found her path in the world. Whereas she’s a perpetual student supporting any number of green causes, her sister, Emily, is the CEO of Veritech--a computer start-up company poised to go public and guaranteed to make Emily a multi-millionaire. While Jess moves from man to man, Emily has found her soulmate in Jonathan, also making a name and a fortune for himself in the computer industry.
Jess looks forward to perusing McClintock’s cookbooks, but what she finds vastly exceeds her expectations. Not only is each book a veritable treasure, but hidden within various titles are sensual pen and ink drawings and equally provocative recipes…apparently created by McClintock himself.
The Cookbook Collector has a full cast of characters and the richness of Goodman’s words pleasured my senses. Whether print or audio, Allegra Goodman’s newest title is guaranteed to delight.
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