The Cookbook Collector

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Powell's Books

Published by: Dial Press Trade
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Pages: 432
ISBN13: 978-0385340861


Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight year old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, and 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.

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"Allegra Goodman's new novel has so many compelling ingrediants.  Where, then, to start?  Perhaps, as with food labels, it would be best to begin with the biggest:  an irresistable story . . . If you're hankering for a feast of love, let yourself fall under the spell of Allegra Goodman's delicious tale.  You won't leave hungry."
—The New York Times Book Review

". . . Goodman makes us care so much about each character and his or her individual story —- not what will happen but how it will affect these people we've come to know — that the pages cannot turn fast enough."
—The Los Angeles Times

"a skillfully crafted engaging novel about love and loyalty . . ."
The Wall Street Journal

"Allegra Goodman mixes up a lively stew of characters from the cotcom-era bubble: bold young software titans, Berkeley tree-huggers, bibliophiles and a pair of investment savvy rabbis.  The plot may be IPO-centric, but the novel is old-fashioned and wildly romantic."

"a midsummer's dream of a novel . . . Goodman's nimble language, usually displayed in her characters' sharp readings of one another, is one of the great pleasures of her writing. The other is her ability to integrate serious metaphysical questions into her entertaining comedies of manners."
—Maureen Corrigon on Fresh Air

"Magnificent . . . delightful . . . profound . . . A wonderful social and romantic comedy.  Such a pleasure to read."
Bill Goldstein on NBC Weekend Today

"wry, astute, and gratifying."
—The New Yorker

"a smart, witty treat."
—The Christian Science Monitor

"Allegra Goodman has concocted a serious but really entertaining story . . . I gobbled it all up."
Alan Cheuse on  NPR's "All Things Considered"

"Proves that a story combining romantic complications with nefarious plots involving Internet start-ups is a delicious mix."
—Town and Country

"flush with wamth and colour"
The Globe and Mail

"Allegra Goodman has Austen's gift for articulating the dynamics within a closed social system.  Like Charles Dickens, she pens enjoyable reads rich with many characters, myriad subplots and kernels of social commentary."
—Miami Herald

"enchanting and sensuous . . .  a romance that dissects ambition with a jeweler's precision."
—Boston Herald

"a literary page turner"
The Independent (UK)

"wise, moving, and every bit as impressive as "Freedom."
The Independent Sunday Books

"In her new novel, she works on a larger social canvas than ever before, armed with an awareness that to comprehend all the scheming and the sorrow, wit is indispensable."

"Looking for a delicious read? Allegra Goodman has whipped up a delectable mix of intelligence, relevance, wit, romance, moral complexity, bibliophilia, dot-com start-ups and family secrets in her luscious fourth novel, "The Cookbook Collector."  One of the joys of being a critic is sampling a new talent early and then returning for heaping platefuls of the increasingly accomplished fare served with each successive book. Goodman is a stellar example . . ."

"The Cookbook Collector is such a delicious story you’ll have to force yourself to slow down and savour every bit. Goodman hasn’t just written a novel, she’s created the sort of world of which great fiction is made, one where love, secrets, betrayal, destiny and faith appear in different guises, acted out by a wide cast of characters."
The Edmonton Journal

"It is the women you'll love, because their differences--hard-driving dot com exec Emily versus latter day hippy Jessamine, for example--are eclipsed by the connectedness that comes from being both female and family."

"Now in her early 40s, her skills and style are finely honed, her range improved. "The Cookbook Collector" captures the whimsy of youth and newfound wealth, the coarsening of middle age, fringe groups of Judaism and ecology. And she does so not through connected stories or novellas, but through a grand sweep of narrative that pushes beyond a character study of Jess and Emily and into their companies and companions."
—Portland Oregonian

"The Cookbook Collector will appeal to readers who seek the pleasures of a beach read – romance, lovers' betrayals, depictions of jet-setting people with money and power – but who also crave substance: solid prose, well-crafted scenes, developed characters, abundant literary allusions and plenty of food for thought."She captures the world with intensity and humor, using characters who become dear, but never flat. The cookbook collector of the novel's title refers to one who would rather collect cookbooks than cook, someone who would stand apart from the world instead of participating in it."
—Dallas Morning News

"This is a story of people coming to fully participate in life. On the way, fate brings some unexpected turns, but the work ends in a way that seems balanced and realistic, but also right. It's a hard balance to strike, and Goodman succeeds wonderfully."
—Denver Post

"enchanging and sensuous . . .expertly prepared, delectable and satisfying."
Kansas City Star

"The world she weaves practically vibrates with humanity--and it's hard not to imagine that if Austen were to drop in for a visit, she'd pull out a laptop and feel very much at home."
—People (four star review)

"a sumptuous feast"
The Witchita Eagle

"Allegra Goodman captures that frenzy with charm and authority . . .Goodman’s characters strive to do what’s right and we care about them."
—Providence Journal

". . . a sprawling, fiercely smart, socially astute drama set in the dot com era."
—Portland Mercury

". . . a graceful writer and such an uncommonly astute observer of human foibles that when she focuses her steady gaze on the Bach sisters, her novel is pure delight."
—National Public Radio

"I can't think of anyone else who manages that precarious tone so well, balanced with Zenlike tranquillity between genuine mirth and heartfelt despair. She describes modern life in stories as witty and astute as Zoë Heller's or Claire Messud's but without a drop of bitterness . . . Goodman is a fantastically fluid writer, and yet for all her skill, she's a humble, transparent one who stays out of the way, never drawing attention to her style or cleverness."
—Ron Charles in The Washington Post

"Goodman is quite wise about human nature, but fond of it nonetheless. Her characters vie for their chance, full of foibles and endearments, hoping to fool each other even as they effortlessly fool themselves . . . a gentle, comedic touch, a nicely carpentered plot and characters who swell our hopes for their happiness."
—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"devilishly clever"
—Sacramento Bee

"a delightful tale . . . With humor and a keen ability to maintain tension, Goodman lines up all the many pieces for a tidy resolution."
—New Jersey Star Ledger

"[in] her latest and best book . . . Goodman uses the theme of hunger and appetite to refract the giddying facets of this period, and she does so to great effect. . .

A power-hungry young mogul is so intent on exhorting his troops with empty optimism that he cannot hear his business partner shouting across the room that their site has been compromised by hackers. A perfect peach serves as the vehicle for an extended seduction as subtle and sweet as fruit's flesh . . .  The book is worth reading for these scenes alone, or for the fairy tale ending, but the biggest payoff for most readers will be a bittersweet nostalgia for that recent past when it seemed all appetites could be fulfilled."
—The San Francisco Chronicle


"In her sixth novel The Cookbook Collector, she ups the stakes with a deft literary hat trick, expertly braiding disparate threads involving dotcom start-ups, environmental radicalism, and rare-book collecting into one consistently engrossing narrative . . . Goodman delivers a novel of impressive élan and real emotional resonance." A–
—Entertainment Weekly


"Goodman is everything it says on her tin - a wonderful, lyrical writer etc - but she also has an astute eye for comedy and some bits of the book are truly hilarious."

--Daily Mail (UK)

“Fans of Goodman's lovely, nuanced novels have a treat in store with this tale of two sisters.”
Entertainment Weekly summer preview

“Goodman is especially admired for evoking smart and subtly nuanced characters, and Emily and Jess are so emotionally authentic that I almost tried to Google them. She also perfectly captures what it felt like to be an optimistic, idealistic twentysomething during one of the most optimistic, idealistic periods in American history—when anyone who didn’t risk everything felt like they were missing out on the main chance. . . .  Unlike many of the companies of the First Digital Age, The Cookbook Collector is enormously satisfying and well worth the investment.”

“Sisters find that love can be wondrously, or tragically, accidental. Goodman is a romantic realist who dazzles with wit, compassion and vegan recipes.”
Wall Street Journal summer preview

"Goodman (Intuition, 2006, etc.) . . .  Frequently laugh-out-loud funny but always fundamentally serious, the novel takes a clear-eyed look at the competitive instinct and the profit motive as they clash with our equally strong need for love and connection . . . .  A witty, warm and wise look at the human condition in the digital age."
—Kirkus (starred review)

"Goodman (Kaaterskill Falls) is remarkably successful in creating rich, engaging characters and a complex story of love and identity that reads like life itself. Highly recommended."
—Library Journal (starred review)

"If any contemporary author deserves to wear the mantle of Jane Austen, it's Goodman, whose subtle, astute social comedies perfectly capture the quirks of human nature. This dazzling novel is Austen updated for the dot-com era . . . Enjoyable and satisfying, this is Goodman's (Intuition) most robust, fully realized and trenchantly meaningful work yet."
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“A glimmering tale, spiked with hilarious banter, of ardent individualists, imperiled love, and incandescent interpretations of the mutability and timelessness of the human condition.”
Booklist (starred review)