Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. 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: Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, 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.
Looking for a delicious read? Allegra Goodman has whipped up a delectable mix of intelligence, relevance, wit, romance, moral complexity, bibliophilia, dot-com startups, and family secrets in her luscious fourth novel, The Cookbook Collector. Seriously, if charm weren't such a maligned sweetener, I'd flag that ingredient, too.
The Cookbook Collector brings together the spiritual and secular strands of Goodman's ongoing inquiry into the multitude of ways one can live and find meaning. Her characters struggle with questions about what's really valuable in an often baffling world in which rare books are more highly prized than giant redwoods, and stock prices soar and crash in the space of months. Goodman has referred to her new novel as "a Sense and Sensibility for the digital age." If you're worried about redundancy with Cathleen Schine's delightfully frothy The Three Weissmanns of Westport, you needn't be: The Cookbook Collector, although no less entertaining, is a more ambitious book, with a looser connection to Jane Austen's classic.