Monday, December 7, 2009
Review: The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel
Publisher: Polhemus Press
Genre: Cookbook, fiction
Hard cover 359 pages
Book Source: FSB Associates
From the book's website:
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” vow to form an exclusive two-person club. Throughout the decades they write 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 girls 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.
No matter what different paths they take or what misunderstandings threaten to break them apart, Lilly and Val always find their way back together through their Recipe Club…until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.
Now, decades later, while trying to recapture the trust they’ve lost, Lilly and Val reunite once more—only to uncover a shocking secret. Will it destroy their friendship, or bring them ever closer?
This is a wonderful way to make a book of recipes cute and fun. Each recipe reflects an incident or an occasion in the letter. For example, the break-up with a boy is tied to the recipe for Lovelorn Lasagna, because "How do you fix a broken heart? Maybe with ricotta cheese." (pg. 128) The recipes range from breakfast to dinner, with ones for Roasted Chicken, Meatloaf, and Salmon Croquettes. I have't tried any of them yet, but plan to make the Peanut Butter bars in a few weeks as part of holiday baking. I'll let you know how they come out.
With regards to the story, the girls,and their secret, I think it was pretty predictable. To be honest, I don't know why Val remained friends with Lilly. Actually I probably do, but lets not go there. Continuing on, I have friends with characteristics like Lilly, so I understand, to a certain extent, where they are coming from. However, the manner in which she treats Val, especially towards the end of the book is ridiculous. Val is not blameless in this story, but because Lilly had issues growing up does not excuse her behavior. Lilly could use a good slap back to reality, and Val should wash those footprints off her back.
Regardless, this really was a cute story and a very creative idea for a recipe book. Maybe it will make old friends or moms and daughters connect, who knows. Either way, those recipes sound delicious and I will definitely be trying some of those out.
My Rating: 88/100
The format of letters caused me some difficulty from time to time. The letters were not always back and forth, sometimes Val wrote a few in a row. Also, Lilly was very unreasonable at times and worked my nerves.
Thanks again to Caitlin from FSB Associates for my review copy.
I will let you know how those bars come out. I'm baking the weekend of the 18th, so keep your fingers crossed.