Allegra Goodman has once again delivered a book with an interesting premise that is readable and literate. The Cookbook Collector begins in the late 1990’s in the midst of the dotcom boom. It tells the story of two very different sisters. Although raised in Massachusetts, the sisters both live in the San Francisco area. Emily is the CEO of Veritech, a Silicon Valley dotcom on the verge of its IPO. Jess is a graduate student in philosophy at Berkeley.
Emily’s boyfriend is an executive another dotcom located in Massachusetts; he is equally driven. Jess is involved with various environmental activists, and works at an antiquarian bookstore. The owner of the bookstore is a former Microsoft executive who has retired with his fortune and is now a serious collector of books, maps, etc. George is interested in Jess, but holds back because of his inability to let his emotions take over.
When George purchases a cookbook collection, he sets Jess to work cataloging the collection. They begin to see each other differently. Emily and Jonathan become engaged, but set no wedding date because of Emily’s commitment issues and Jonathan’s devotion to his company’s IPO.
The Cookbook Collector is actually chock full of other sub-plots; too many to summarize here. But they all come together in the end and make a satisfying conclusion. The characters, even the minor ones, are interesting and well defined.
I highly recommend this book!
Published in hardcover-The Dial Press-2010