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.