Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Cookbook Collector - Allegra Goodman

This book has so many of the elements that I love in a good story - it's about family - in particular two very different sisters, Emily and Jess. It's set locally - in the Silicon Valley and in Berkeley. It features books prominently - Jess works in a used bookstore owned by a wealthy eccentric named George. And, it's just about their lives together and interacting with the people around them. Despite this, there were times when I felt like the book was trying to do too much. Emily works for a start-up during the to dot-bust era - and her long-distance boyfriend does the same. There are chapters devoted to the development of their technologies and the questionable sharing of proprietary information within the confines of their relationship. With a Jewish mother who passed away when the girls were quite young, Jess flirts with the idea of returning to temple and has various odds-and-ends encounters with rabbis near and far. Then there is how the girls deal with the absence of their mother, how the interact with their father and his new family, their various relationships with men, life in a post-9/11 world, etc. I often read books and love the characters so much that I wish the author could just write about their day-to-day lives. Well, in some way I got what I asked for in this book (though I can't say I loved any of these characters- though I would have liked to know more about George) - Goodman follows the day-to-day lives of these women - no matter where it takes us, even if completely random, off topic, and seemingly irrelevant. And my reaction was not positive. So, I suppose, be careful what you wish for. This is a good way to pass an afternoon or evening, but nothing I would go out of my way to recommend.

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