The Cookbook Collector

  • by Allegra Goodman
  • Narrated by Ariadne Meyers
  • 15 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times best-selling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers and listeners. 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: 28-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech; 23-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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What the Critics Say

"If any contemporary author deserves to wear the mantle of Jane Austen, it’s [Allegra] Goodman, whose subtle, astute social comedies perfectly capture the quirks of human nature. This dazzling novel...is Goodman’s most robust, fully realized and trenchantly meaningful work yet.” (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of Goodman's lovely, nuanced novels have a treat in store with this tale of two sisters." (Entertainment Weekly)
"Goodman is remarkably successful in creating rich, engaging characters and a complex story of love and identity." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Just MAHvelous!

I remember Allegra Goodman from "Intuition", which I thought was a darker, more deeply layered novel than "The Cookbook Collector". I thought Goodman's first novel had more mystery and more seriously conflicted characters, and the core group was science-based instead of the technology startup boom in 2000, not that the latter observation is enough in itself to blame or praise a novel. However, I found this novel overdone with "stuff" - overstuffed? - just way too filled up with things: technology, money, cars, rare books, clothes, food, "happiness", whatever that means, and of course all the brand names that go with all the stuff. The pairing of the "hot" old wealthy guy (loaded with brilliance, musical and culinary talent in addition to dollars) with the naive young girl with no visible means of support is just another 2010 version of an old, tired cliche. I also thought the old guy seemed a bit shallow - and of course he's toned and fit because of his daily runs - in spite of his diverse interests. The only thing that really saves the ending from terminal triteness is that no-one ends up pregnant to celebrate their new romance. But I could not give the book anything less than a five just because reading it felt like eating too much chocolate cake, despite the story line that deals sensitively with the pain and losses of 9/11. It's still really well-done. I just liked "Intuition" better.

The narrator has a quirk which takes some getting used to. I guess in an effort to add authenticity to dialogue, she pauses a bit, hesitates after reading the first word of a spoken sentence, as though the person is unsure of what he/she is saying, or is thinking out loud. It seems that too many of the characters speak this way, and after I noticed it, of course it bothered me even more. There is one character with severe anxiety and here perhaps the tic is appropriate, but for the most part the verbal patterns did not need to be there.
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- Pamela Harvey "glam"

An engaging read

I have never taken time to review an Audible selection, but The Cookbook Collector really kept me listening and as the end approached it left me wanting more. Ms. Goodman interweaves multiple storylines with luminous writing. Well worth the expenditure of a credit and the investment of time to listen.
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- Freida

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-06-2010
  • Publisher: Random House Audio