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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,911 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Allegra Goodman Narrator: Ariadne Meyers Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2010 ISBN: 9780307736857
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Goodman is remarkably successful in creating rich, engaging characters and a complex story of love and identity that reads like life itself.”

    Library Journal

  • “Enjoyable and satisfying, this is Goodman’s most robust, fully realized and trenchantly meaningful work yet.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Allegra Goodman’s new novel has so many appealing ingredients. Where, then, to start the list? Perhaps, as with food labels, it would be best to begin with the biggest: an irresistible story. Then add four strong characters: two sisters, and the two men who orbit them. Then there’s the narrative voice: sweet but not cloyingly so, nourishing but not heavy, serving up zesty nuggets of truth. And the spicing is piquant but not too assertive…If you’re hankering for a feast of love, let yourself fall under the spell of Allegra Goodman’s abundantly delicious tale. You won’t leave hungry.”

    New York Times

  • “A witty, warm, and wise look at the human condition in the digital age.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “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, Starred Review
  • "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, starred review
  • Selected for the July 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lu | 2/13/2014

    " Lost interest and put it down. I hit my 100 page threshold and decided to spend my time on a good book, rather than... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave Morris | 2/7/2014

    " I normally prefer books with a strong plot line, this book however seems to be about the everyday lives of its characters - nothing particular outstanding occurs to anyone until quite near the end of the novel. Having said that, I actually really enjoyed reading this! It is well written and has a good ambience about it that sort of pulls you onwards - it make you care about the characters and everytime you put the book down you want to pick it up again just to find out what happens to the people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana Vindedzis | 2/4/2014

    " Fun novel about romance, cookbook collecting with interesting character and relationship development. I love to cook, so this was especially appealing to me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samantha | 2/3/2014

    " I *LOVED* The Cookbook Collector. Even if the book did seem a little techo-centric at times, you didn't have to be a computer programmer to figure any of it out. Perhaps I was able to easily identify with the sister because they are as different as my sister and I are--in temperment, character and success--though admittedly I never lived in a tree. (A friend and I did consider it, but then I found out I was pregnant and then, frankly, I had bigger problems than the trees.) At one point, Jess, while cataloguing the amazing cookbook collection, is left a peach to eat. The author Allegra Goodman writes her eating this peach like it is the most incredible peach ever eaten. I can't even begin to tell you how much I wanted a peach. In fact, I went to the most expensive store I could find (where the best produce usually is) and bought the most expensive, juiciest looking peaches I could pick out of the bundle and as the juice squirted as undaintily as possible everywhere (unlike Allegra Goodman's gorgeous description) I still felt like I could be eating Jess's peach. Amazing. I'll admit, The Cookbook Collector is very Austenesque. Like Sense and Sensibility the Jewtastic Edition or Sense and Sensibility the Technotastic Version! Lots of interesting information and very entertaining. I had a hard time putting it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Wilcox | 1/13/2014

    " Enjoyable, deft characterizations, all about social interactions and relationships so, yes, comparisons with Austen aren't completely unreasonable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christine Calabrese | 1/10/2014

    " A bit winded, but still, a very good story! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Teryl | 1/10/2014

    " An ambitious attempt, but I don't see the Jane Austen link at all. I didn't find it gripping and really struggled to finish it. The characters didn't appeal. I am really getting a bit tired of business women who are not role models in any way in novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tish | 12/21/2013

    " An excellent book that keeps you in suspense. Four different plots happening at once. You have to wait to find out the why of the title. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 12/19/2013

    " This book really annoyed me. It felt like the author wanted to research a bunch of subjects, but not clear why they all had to be one book. The characters were to obvious for me and while the plot had lots of details, it was still lacking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 12/16/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. I loved Jess & George, though Emily kind of bored me. The story was fast paced and intriguing. I loved the setting of the book and although the ending wasn't fantastic, it seemed real. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Gainer | 12/7/2013

    " It was interesting to have been listening to this around the time of Steve Jobs' demise, since a large part of the book deals with the rise and fall of high tech companies. While engaging, not one of my favorites by this author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica | 12/7/2013

    " Enjoyable enough, but all the plots felt either disjointed or linked in an improbable and unconvincing way. Some of the characters managed to win me over, at least sometimes, but I wasn't totally invested in their outcomes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 11/20/2013

    " I enjoyed it but it wasn't outstanding. I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele | 8/31/2013

    " Just okay... the characters were wonderful which is why I kept reading, and the story ends around 9/11 which gives it a very contemporary feel. But the plot in general was just so-so "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 8/18/2013

    " I really loved the author's character descriptions. She brought the different personalities to life and made them very believable. The different intertwining stories of their lives and their work, whether at tech start-up companies, or antique bookstore made the novel so interesting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 7/12/2013

    " Pretty cliche overall but readable and reasonably entertaining "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 7/9/2013

    " A bunch of threads in search of a knot. In other words, too many disparate subplots that don't really tie together. Also, a little too chick-lit tinged for my taste. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tara Lynn Tanner | 6/17/2013

    " So this book is really about the rise and failure of a dot com. Or it's about September 11th. Or it doesn't really know what it's about. Parts of it were beautiful.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hannah Katsman | 6/16/2013

    " It's rare these days to come across a good love story. Beautifully written. I found the history of the dot-coms less interesting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer Strauss Gurss | 1/10/2013

    " This book was ok -- reasonably well-written and interesting, but still seemed a bit forced. I gave it 2 stars because I did want to finish it, which means the author made me care enough about the characters, but I probably could have walked away and not felt any remorse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gretchen | 11/24/2012

    " Annoyingly cloying at first, then weirdly compelling, then just kind of good. Too many adjectives though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 10/29/2012

    " I wish the female protagonists were stronger. Too much "victimhood" and weakness for my taste. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurel | 9/26/2012

    " I just finished listening to this book. It was okay. Pre and post 9/11 literature. Not deeply convincing. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Danielle Hippert | 9/1/2012

    " I predicted what was going on by page 20. I gave it 30 more pages and put it down. It was trite and predictable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurie | 6/29/2012

    " It's possible my expectations were too high. Or else this book just really isn't as good as everyone is saying it is. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cristina | 12/3/2011

    " An enjoyable read, but a little superficial. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Megan | 10/17/2011

    " I enjoyed this book, but it did get a little slow and tedious in the middle parts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leigh Marsden | 10/6/2011

    " Allegra Goodman writes like I wish I could write. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 6/28/2011

    " very good, though the ending disappointed alittle. Very interesting to see 9/11 woven into a story like this "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenn | 6/25/2011

    " Like the other Goodman novels I've read I loved the complexity of the plot and the "realness" of the numerous characters. And I have no choice but to like a story that involves both rare book dealers and Richard Stallman references. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janet | 6/25/2011

    " Talented writer, but this book lacks focus. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Teryl | 6/25/2011

    " An ambitious attempt, but I don't see the Jane Austen link at all. I didn't find it gripping and really struggled to finish it. The characters didn't appeal. I am really getting a bit tired of business women who are not role models in any way in novels. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gena | 6/22/2011

    " I couldn't get through 40 pages before becoming disinterested. :( "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Grace | 6/21/2011

    " All the comments on the outside said this book was wonderful. And it the description on the cover sounded good. But I just couldn't get into it. It was the comparisons to Austen that made me go "huh?" I don't know--just couldn't get into it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alison | 6/19/2011

    " I couldn't finish it. I thought it was/is very poorly written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aj | 6/18/2011

    " First off I have to mention that I borrowed this as an audiobook, unabridged of course. I have to say that I thought this was going to be a completely different book than it turned out to be. Frankly it simply annoyed the hell out of me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michelle | 6/18/2011

    " Awful, just awful. I found this book to be so boring.

    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mw | 6/18/2011

    " A very readable book: interesting characters with interesting occupations. Author is skilled at similes and dialogue. I personally thought it could have been two books, and that the title doesn't reflect the totality of the content. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 6/16/2011

    " Nice story but she over explained things. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erja | 6/15/2011

    " Goodman is called Jane Austen of our times. That is overrating her but this is a good book, not excellent. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele | 6/15/2011

    " Just okay... the characters were wonderful which is why I kept reading, and the story ends around 9/11 which gives it a very contemporary feel. But the plot in general was just so-so "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenifer | 6/13/2011

    " It took me several chapters to get into the book. The plot is a bit convoluted at times and shift perspectives rapidly. I felt satisfied in the end but I didn't love the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lori | 6/11/2011

    " wanted to love it but didn't. more of a chore to read than i like "

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About the Author

Allegra Goodman’s novels include Intuition and Kaaterskill Falls. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker and Best American Short Stories. She is a winner of the Whiting Writer’s Award and a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

About the Narrator

Ariadne Meyers was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1969. She began an acting career at twelve, with her role as Al Pacino’s stepdaughter in Author! Author! and hasn’t looked back since. Her most famous role to date is that of “Emma Jane McCardle,” which she portrayed on the 80s sitcom, Kate & Allie for six years. In 1991, she graduated from Yale with honors and a double major in philosophy and theater arts.