Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel *Review*

Lilly and Val are young friends who write back and forth about their hopes and dreams, their loves and losses, their families, their friends, and recipes.
The Recipe Club takes the two friends from 1963-2003 in the epistolary style that I so enjoyed in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What starts as a young innocent friendship turns into almost a competitive, resentful relationship between the two.
Lilly's mother is a mostly absent, self absorbed woman who has multiple affairs throughout the book while Lilly's father spends the majority of his time with Val's mother trying to cure her of her mental illness. This leads to Lilly being jealous of the attention Isaac (her father) lavishes on Val, and you see how Lilly easily turns into a spoiled, demanding young woman who just like her mother can easily drop relationships when she has nothing more to gain from them.
Val, who's agoraphobic mother loves her but is never there for her in other ways (piano recitals, school conferences) strives to hold onto the friendship she has with Lilly, the one person she feels has always been there for her. As Val excels in school and love- Lilly competes for her attention yet at the same time leaves her hanging in things they have always done together.
To me, Lilly did not seem like a friend I would want and Val's neediness and dependency on Lilly's friendship began to irk me. The one redeeming factor of this book were the recipes. There were a lot of recipes sprinkled throughout the book and while not all of them were much different from what you find in any other average cookbook, the names given to them were lighthearted and fun.
By flipping to any recipe in the book I can tell you what happened in the preceding chapter by the name given the recipe. Lovelorn Lasagna, Conspiracy Apple Pie, Diploma Dip with Veggies, Confetti Spaghetti, and First Kiss Caramel Almond Kisses are all recipes that reflect their feelings or what was going on in their lives at the time.
While not a great book, it was an easy read so I'll give it 2/5 stars.