Saturday, October 10, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Recipe Club

The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
By Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel
Published by Polhemus Press
October 2009; $24.95US/CAN; 978-09823492-0-5

About the book: 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.

But 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?

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a very nice mix of novel and cookbook. Val and Lilly were childhood friends and then pen pals. They decided to start a recipe club for two and when they wrote back and forth they included a timely recipe. I liked the way they named the recipes according to their moods or circumstances at the time, like ‘Good For What Ails You Ginger Ale’ or ‘Mighty Math Muffins’.

The story was full of emotion as neither girl had any trouble saying what she felt in her letters. Val’s mother suffered from agoraphobia (fear of going outside) that caused her to have panic attacks and never leave their home, and Lilly’s father was a psychiatrist who treated her. He spent long hours at Val’s home and encouraged Val in her studies and later paid for her college. She always seemed what he wanted in a daughter while Lilly wanted to forgo college and have a career singing. This caused some problems between the girls and their parents. Things come to a head one day and they didn’t speak again for 26 years!

The book starts in 2000 with Val emailing Lilly to let her know Val’s mother had died and in part two it goes back to 1964 and relates the girl’s relationship and what led up to their split. Park three returns to the present. Are the women able to regain the friendship they had when younger? There’s a dramatic turn of events that will either help reunite them or split them forever. I highly recommend this book.

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