The Cookbook Collector

The Cookbook Collector
Allegra Goodman
Dial Press, 2010

What caught my attention initially was the title - my mum and I collect cookbooks, so to see a novel entitled "The Cookbook Collector" was attention-getting to say the least. Then I saw where people are calling Allegra Goodman "the modern-day Jane Austen". And at that point, I knew I needed to give in and read the book. Thankfully, I lucked out and the library had it available and ready for check out!

I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call Goodman the new Jane Austen, but I can understand why people draw the comparison: Just as Jane knew humanity and was able to demonstrate the ridiculous and the admirable in her characters, Goodman is a keen observer of human nature and draws very believable, real figures. So while I can understand it, I don't entirely agree. The Cookbook Collector has a LOT of characters. And almost all of them get a chance to 'speak'/ be in the spotlight. While that creates a very developed, detailed and dimensional story, it was also rather confusing until I got everyone sorted out in my head.

Actually, that's kind of my overall feeling about the book: I was confused until I got it all organized. There are a lot of storylines, and figuring out how they all related - IF they were all related - took some mental attention. As the story progressed, it got easier and easier to follow. Whether that's because I was now totally engrossed in the story or because I had worked through the confusing beginning and made it into a clearer-in-general part of the story, I don't know. What I do know is this: Goodman wove an intricate tale, and took it somewhere I was not expecting. At all. Once I reached the end, I had a moment of thinking "I should've seen that coming," but then - if I had seen it coming, I wouldn't have liked the story so well. Because I did like it, a lot. Allegra Goodman may not be Jane Austen, but she can write an amazing and arresting story.

Book provided by my local library.


  1. Enjoyed the review! It's funny, when I first saw the cover and title I thought...oh, a cookbook! I can definitely see how it'd get confusing with so many characters. Multiple points of few (in my opinion) have to be done sparingly or the outcome is not so good. Thanks for sharing your reading adventure though! Happy reading...

  2. I've seen mixed reactions to this one all over the place, but do think it'll be one I'll enjoy! Anytime someone is compared to Jane Austen, people will snap to attention -- just as I did! I saw Goodman at a literary festival last weekend, too, and she was very interesting. Looking forward to this one!