The Cookbook Collector

The Cookbook Collector

A Novel

eBook - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Publisher: New York : Dial Press, 2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780679603818
Branch Call Number: OVERDRIVE
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xii, 394 p.)
Additional Contributors: Overdrive, Inc


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
MissAnnie Sep 22, 2014

An unexpectedly multi-faceted novel with characters operating in the fast paced world of dot coms as well as in the world of antiquarian book collecting. The action is set against the news of the day with characters impacted by environmental movements, Nasdaq's ups and downs and even the events of 911. A much richer read than anticipated from the title and the cover art.

justnina Aug 17, 2014

I thought the Cookbook Collector was am extremely enjoyable read.
The many interwoven storylines are not hard to follow, To me, the most intriguing was the relationship between two sisters who think very differently about life. However, all the characters were well-written, full of warmth and intelligence.

wendybird Aug 23, 2011

This book started out so well, but it falls into the category novels needing some rigourous attention from a good editor. It really seemed like it was rushed to print - the ending came out of no where & somehow was all connected to 9/11. Huh? Goodman introduces some terrific ideas - young, bright, hard-working, American women, sister -- on very different planes when it comes to life view, romance, career choices, etc -- but never realizes her potential. I'm going to have to see if her other novels make the grade. Some real flashes of beauty, but some incredibly clunky moments pull it all down.

May 26, 2011

I was really disappointed in this book. I read reviews saying it was just as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. It's not! I had to stop reading halfway through. I found the characters not at all surprising or interesting. Now maybe this is too picky but I had to give up on this book when the woman who works in the bookstore has put together a display for Shakespeare's birthday - in a scene that is clearly described as taking place in late autumn. If you liked Freedom, I very much doubt you will enjoy reading this book.

May 07, 2011

Just shows you can't judge a book by it's cover or title. Tried but couldn't read it!

May 07, 2011

Someone recommended this book, if I remember who, I will let them know to choose another. The story did not keep my attention; each night when I picked it up I had to go back to the previous chapter to reacquaint myself with the characters and story line. After about 100 pages I gave up.

Mar 03, 2011

set in the bay area, a number of interesting unpredictable characters who live in Berkley. The main female character in the book ends up marrying the wealthy completely odd owner of a collector bookstore. She ends up documenting a rare old cookbook collection. I enjoyed the book, not as great as the reviews.

Feb 05, 2011

Two sisters, Emily and Jess, find their way in the competing sensibility of millennium America: one is CEO of an internet start-up while the other studies philosophy at Cal Berkeley and works in an antiquarian bookshop owned by a Microsoft millionaire. Both are looking for love and the fulfillment that such a relationship might give them.

This is a story of coincidences and decisions, secrets and lies. In the cookbook part?a collection George, the bookshop owner buys?Goodman's writing is Proustian and in the high tech world of Silicon Valley and Cambridge high fliers we're taken to a time when possibilities seemed ripe for the picking. These competing stories, while connected, made this book disjointed and not quite as enjoyable as I'd hoped.

Dec 23, 2010

I should have read the reviews on Amazon first. Terribly written, boring, and unrealistic coincidences. Since the author failed to engage me after reading 200 pages, I gave up.

Dec 16, 2010

This was well written and an interesting read; however, I found that it focused too much on details of IPO's during the late 1990's dot-com boom and too little on the cookbooks. Also, I don't see how this could even be compared to "a modern Jane Austen". Also, I found myself bored by chapters that focused on peripheral characters. I just didn't care about them as much as Jess & Emily.

View All Comments


Add a Summary
Nov 11, 2013

My husband moved to Fredericksburg thirteen months before I did. The three-hour commute between our two worlds birthed my obsession with recorded books. Even though we now share only one home, the obsession remains. Once I began listening to The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman, I became so engrossed in the story that I looked for any reason to drive…indefinitely.

The title character—the cookbook collector—plays only a minor role, but one around whom all others orbit. Tom McClintock was a renowned lichenologist who filled his somewhat reclusive life with cookbooks, both obscure and valuable. Upon his death, McClintock’s estate is inherited by his niece Sandra. In need of money to help her daughter gain custody of her children, Sandra approaches used/antique bookstore owner, George Friedman, about purchasing the entire collection. George agrees to review the cookbooks and brings along his free-spirited clerk, Jessamine Bach, for assistance. George very seldom displays anything but his gruff side, yet he secretly pines for the lovely Jess.

Jess hasn’t quite found her path in the world. Whereas she’s a perpetual student supporting any number of green causes, her sister, Emily, is the CEO of Veritech--a computer start-up company poised to go public and guaranteed to make Emily a multi-millionaire. While Jess moves from man to man, Emily has found her soulmate in Jonathan, also making a name and a fortune for himself in the computer industry.

Jess looks forward to perusing McClintock’s cookbooks, but what she finds vastly exceeds her expectations. Not only is each book a veritable treasure, but hidden within various titles are sensual pen and ink drawings and equally provocative recipes…apparently created by McClintock himself.

The Cookbook Collector has a full cast of characters and the richness of Goodman’s words pleasured my senses. Whether print or audio, Allegra Goodman’s newest title is guaranteed to delight.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top