Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: "The Christmas Cookie Club" by Ann Pearlman


Mark your calendar. It's the Christmas Cookie Club! Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish, a bottle of wine, and their stories. This year, the stories are especially important. Marnie's oldest daughter has a risky pregnancy. Will she find out tonight how that story might end? Jeannie's father is having an affair with her best friend. Who else knew about the betrayal, and how can that be forgiven or forgotten, even among old friends such as these? Rosie's husband doesn't want children, and she has to decide, very soon, whether or not that's a deal breaker for the marriage. Taylor's life is in financial freefall. Each woman, each friend has a story to tell, and they are all interwoven, just as their lives are.

On this evening, at least, they can feel as a group the impulses of sisterly love and conflict, the passion and hopefulness of a new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the agony of losing a child, and above all, the love they have for one another. As Marnie says, the Christmas Cookie Club, if it's anything, is a reminder of delight.

It's that time of year again! You know, when everywhere you turn are holiday parties with lots of goodies left and right. And the best goodie of all is the Christmas cookie. It doesn't matter what kind or what shape the cookie is, there's just something magical about the Christmas cookie that makes it taste even more delicious. Be prepared to realize that this is not really a Christmas story. If you're expecting tidings of goodwill and joy, you're reading the wrong book. Don't go looking for a light story. The tales from these women are hard to read at times, sad, often depressing and very heavy. I actually found this to be quite refreshing. It's realistic and the holidays aren't always a happy time for everyone. Many times this is the most painful time of the year for some people. The women in this book have a range of emotions and this is the time for them to share with each other and find a glimpse of hope and happiness.

I wasn't a big fan of the passages in between chapters about the ingredients. As a history major, I appreciated the background about the subject. I just felt that with the recipes already at the beginning of the chapter, the extra passages broke up the story even more. It would have been nicer if they were shorter passages or alternated with the recipes. Also I felt that with the large number of women in the group already, it seemed unnecessary to add the chapters of the women who weren't even physically at the meeting. If this was going to be a series and we would get more time with the characters, then I could understand this. However, since we only spend such a whole time with the entire cast, I felt like the other women got robbed in more depth in their stories.

There's a bit of cursing in the book but it's not gratuitous. The cookie recipes in the book range from super simple to a bit complex. There's something in here for everyone. You will definitely get hungry for some cookies while reading this book. My advice would be to either make a batch yourself and grab a plate before you open the book. Or if you have amazing willpower, you'll get inspired to make them after reading, as I did. Either way, you're in for a treat with this book. I wish I was part of a cookie club myself!

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman is published by Atria (2009)

This review copy was provided by the Amazon Vine program

4 comments:

  1. I agree - this isn't really a Christmas book - it's really a book about friendship. I did enjoy the passages about the ingredients!

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  2. This book sounds like one I would enjoy. (And btw, I subscribed to your blog to help me follow you on your Nancy Drew Challenge.) Now I'm just browsing....

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  3. I liked this book, but thought the sheer number of characters was difficult.

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  4. I just finished reading and reviewing this book!

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