Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Review - The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship (A Novel) by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship (A Novel)
Author: Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel
Year: 2009
Page: 368
Genre: Fiction: Chick-lit / Women

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? No
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? New York, Boston
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
Loyalty, loss, and the ties that bind. These are the ingredients of The Recipe Club, a "novel cookbook" that combines an authentic story of friendship with more than 80 delicious recipes.

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.

The Recipe Club sustains Lilly and Val's bond through the decades, regardless of what different paths they take or what misunderstandings threaten to break them apart . . . until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.

Now, years 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?

First Sentence:
Dear Lilly, I have started a letter just like this about a thousand times.

Why did I pick this book?
I first saw it under New Books in my library online catalog - I love the title (I love food remember? Even though I can't really cook but am learning how to) and there were some good reviews online. Even though it's not a genre I'd normally pick, I thought I'd give it a try.

My thoughts:
  • I love the cover - if you remove the text, I'd hang the picture on my wall at home - serenity, was the first word that came to mind

  • I love the format of the book - emails and letters (and recipes!) between two close friends. They also include some drawing and colors on the recipes page which made it look fun

  • Unfortunately, that's about the only things I like about the book :( I could not relate to the 2 main characters (Val and Lilly) or their families. Granted, Val and Lilly are older than I am, so we are at a different stage of life... but their big argument is so... trivial... I mean, really? You were such close friends that you broke up your friendship over that (at college age - not even high school)? And even after 26 years of not talking to each year, you still couldn't get over it?

  • I also think the two voices aren't distinctive enough - I couldn't tell who wrote the letters without seeing who signed it. Also, I don't think the characters matured over the years...

  • The letters / emails dialog seemed kinda forced... do people really talk like that? Maybe I am the weird one because my friends and I don't... "Look, I know I'm high-strung and a bit of a diva, but there's something I need to get off my 36DD chest -- the one you've always wished you had." (p37)

  • Some other reviews said you will laugh and cry with the girls... I got bored instead. It was an easy read that I did finish it, and kept hoping that the big secret would make the book better... but it was predictable

  • I think the content of the book also does not go with the cover art - I was expecting a book that explores friendship in a deeper manner (the cover art makes the book looks serious, while the content is more "fun")

  • I have to say though, I don't read chick-lit much. I tried... but I usually got bored and know how the ending will turn out. I wanted to understand why they are so popular but I just don't relate to the characters. I tried reading some that has a bit of mystery/murder elements in them since I prefer those books - so I read One for the Money by Janet Evanovich and The Spellman Files by Liz Lutz. The latter was just okay to me, while the Stephanie Plum book was... really not my cup of tea - I guess not enough twists and turns. So with that in mind - that's why I gave this book a low rating. However, if you generally like chick-lit, I think you will enjoy it.


Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!

100+ Reading


  1. I agree with you on the book-I was rather disappointed with it and expecting more. Way more.

  2. Esme - I am glad to hear I am not the only one! With all the glowing reviews I read, I thought I may have missed something.

  3. Pity about the book. With that cover is should be so much better than it is!

  4. @Kylie - there ARE a lot of good reviews of this book though, just not my taste... so if you do like chick-lit type of books, you may like it!

  5. O it doesn't sound like my cup of tea either. Great review.

  6. @Juju - thanks! I wish I liked it better...

  7. Interesting - sorry this didn't work for you especially since the title seems to be a perfect match for your interests!

    I agree - the cover makes the book seem serious rather than fun.

  8. @Booksnyc - seems like lots of other people like it though, so it's probably just me :)