Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review: The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel

Book Review: The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy GarfinkelHardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper (November 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061992194
ISBN-13: 978-0061992193

Rating: 4/5
Source: Review copy from FSB Associates

Book Blurb:
Lilly and Val are lifelong friends, united as much by their differences as by their similarities. Lilly, dramatic and confident, lives in the shadow of her beautiful, wayward mother and craves the attention of her distant, disapproving father. Val, shy and idealistic - and surprisingly ambitious - struggles with her desire to break free from her demanding housebound mother and a father whose dreams never seem to come true. In childhood, "LillyPad" and "ValPal" form an exclusive two-person club, writing intimate letters in which they share hopes, fears, deepest secrets - and recipes, from Lilly's "Lovelorn Lasagna" to Valerie's "Forgiveness Tapenade." Readers can cook along as the friends travel through time facing the challenges of independence, the joys and heartbreaks of first love, and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred.

My Review:
This was a very interesting book, as it is told almost entirely through the two friend's correspondence. Part One starts off the book with the two friends trying to reconnect via email after 26 years apart. Then Part Two goes back to their early friendship and the start of their Recipe Club, where they exchange recipes along with their letters. It takes us all the way up to their big argument which ends the friendship, then we come back to the present with Part Three, which takes place 2 years after Part One. It's not confusing at all, honest!

Despite being mostly restricted to letters and emails, we still get to know Val and Lilly and watch their friendship evolve as the girls get older. Both sets of parents play a large role in shaping the girls and their friendship, and I liked the extra touch of having the girl's letters go from a child's scrawl on notebook paper to more grown-up stationary as the girls get older. Same thing with the included recipes.

Parts One and Two are strictly emails and letters, but Part Three is a combination of traditional storytelling and emails. Thought the authors handled the transition very well, as I don't see how Part Three could have been told only through emails. All in all, thought they did a great job with the entire book!

Gave this book a 4/5 rating as it had a good plot, the use of emails and letters was very well executed, and the writing and characters were also well done. Also liked the recipes sprinkled throughout the book, and have earmarked a few to try. There's even a recipe index at the back, which I thought was another nice touch! I enjoyed reading this original book and look forward to reading more from these two talented ladies!


  1. This looks so cute. I love books written in the form of letters.

  2. I believe I've only read a handful of books (at the most) that were written in this fashion, but when done right, they are a joy to read. Sounds like this may be one of those "joys". ...and I love the idea of the recipes throughout the book! Adds another fun aspect to the reading adventure.
    Thanks for sharing....and happy reading!

  3. First thing I thought was what a pretty egg, lol. And the writing definitely sounds interesting, a mix of emails, letters, and traditional story telling. I would say that the sections don't sound confusing, but that sort of do, haha. Great review though, and and it sounds like a cute book! :)

  4. The book does sound as it is separated very well from your review. Sounds like it is an interesting setup and writing style to relay a story.

    Another great review!

  5. Just picked up this book from the library, so will be reading it soon! Glad to hear the good review!

  6. This sounds good. I think I could write a book with lots of emails and recipes. Of course, it might not make sense. *l*

  7. Steph - You're right! When done correctly, I love books like this!

    Shannon - Think you would like this one!

    GMR - "Joy" is a good description, as I kept reading just one more letter, then just one more, then just one more, and suddenly I was done with the book! *L*

    Jenn - I really liked the recipes included with the letters. Thought it was a nice touch.

    Melissa - I think these two ladies did a great job!

    Christa - Looking forward to hearing what you think!

    Pam - You totally could! Loved the recipes you featured on your blog over the holidays! Sign me up for a copy once you've finished writing it! :D

  8. I finished but unfortunately didn't like it... but I think it's because it's not the type of book I usually read, so just personal preference.

    My review is here: http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/01/book-review-recipe-club-tale-of-food.html