The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman is about two sisters, one a successful, practical-minded business woman, and one a somewhat flighty perpetual grad student, as they navigate life and love during the dot-com boom/bust and the 9/11 attacks. It is, I believe, a modern day retelling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (not having read the Austen, I'll take everyone's word but the plotline seems very Austen-y to me.) This is the second book I've read by Goodman, after Kaaterskill Falls, and I much preferred it to the earlier work. Maybe that's because it is set in Berkeley, CA and Cambridge, MA, two places with which I am quite familiar.
I read this book for my book club and we had an interesting discussion about it. One of the women in my group had experiences that were very similar to the book's main characters - MIT, Berkeley, worked at a start-up, and so on. She said that at first, she liked that someone had written a book about these experiences, but as the book went on, it was all just a little off - just not quite right about what that time and places were like.
I didn't really love The Cookbook Collector in totality - it tried to do a lot with its big cast and broad scope and just ended up being spotty. But there were pieces - little moments, like someone eating a peach - that I did love. It was a worthwhile book, though not one I'd call a classic.
The paperback will be released on July 12, 2011. Pre-order The Cookbook Collector: A Novel or buy The Cookbook Collector: A Novel on Amazon now.