The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

by Andrea Israel, Nancy Garfinkel


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061992193
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/24/2009
Pages: 363
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Andrea Israel is an Emmy Award-winning television producer and writer and the author of Taking Tea.

Nancy Garfinkel is an award-winning writer, design consultant, creative strategist, and editor, and co-author of The Wine Lover's Guide to the Wine Country.

Read an Excerpt

The Recipe Club


HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2009 Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-199219-3

Chapter One


Dear Lilly, I've started a letter just like this about a thousand times. "Dear Lilly," I'd write, as if I knew what came next. But that was as far as I got. I never knew what to say or how to say it. And I wasn't sure you'd ever want to hear my voice again. But today I know exactly what I have to tell you, and I know you'd want this to come from me. My mother died. Last month, of cancer. Maybe your father already told you; I don't remember what he said at the funeral. It was a hard day. It's been a hard two years. And now that it's over, it feels like walking through a dream-a milky gauze of grief. And relief. And guilt at the relief. Oh, Lilly. This is not how I hoped to find you again. But maybe it's the only way. Death always makes me want to make sense of things. I want to understand my mother's life. I want to understand my own. Perhaps this all feels too raw, too real, too intimate. If so, I'm sorry. But I just had to take the chance that you'd still be there for me the way you once were. I can't begin to tell you how much it would mean for us to reconnect. Even after-especially after-all these many years. Valerie


Dear Val, I honestly don't know what to say.... I'm so sorry about your mother. I hope you find some solace in the knowledge that she loved you and was proud of you. I hope you can carry that with you, along with her smile and that wonderful, raucous laugh that always surprised everyone. Regards to you. And to your family. Lilly


Forgive me for that awful version of a ten-cent drugstore sympathy card and let me start all over: Val, hearing from you has shaken me to the very core. I'm reminded of all we once had and lost. Twenty-six years of silence-and then, at long last, you appear! When I got your e-mail I cried out loud. There you were, or the essence of you, in your brief words. So very palpable. I mean, Christ! Thanks to cyberspace, you were almost here with me in these beloved mountains. Oh, nuts. I'm not very good at this. What I'm trying to convey, in a clumsy way, is that I've spent a lot of time and energy (not to mention thousands of bucks on therapy) convincing myself that our fight was just one of life's many painful lessons. People change, they go different ways. Even the best of friends. I told myself, so be it. "Move on ...," to quote Sondheim. (The very song I once used to open my act.) But the truth is, Val, I can't tell you how many times I've whispered to myself, tonight I'll look out into the audience and she'll be there. I can't tell you how many times I've pretended that somehow, you will just turn up. That somehow we will find a way to be friends again. Look, it's all just a long-winded way of saying: yes, Val, I'm still here for you. Honestly, sweetie, you can count on that. I know when we last spoke, so many moons ago, the problems between us-I mean all of us-were insurmountable (at least they seemed that way to me). Which is why I think you'll find it amazing, if not unbelievable, that at long last my father and I are becoming close. I recently moved back home to live with him. It's temporary. And though it's been good for each of us, it's also been, as you might imagine, less than easy. In fact, right now I'm taking a break at the cabin. (Yes, the family still keeps the place, complete with outhouse and NO PHONE! Can you believe it? So, to get my e-mails I have to trek all the way to Lake Placid, almost forty-five minutes from Keene Valley, to an Internet care-which I thank the techno-goddesses for.) Anyway, at your mother's funeral, you may have noticed my father is a changed man. The infamously stony Isaac Stone is much more vulnerable these days. Your mother's death hit him surprisingly hard. It's the first time I've seen him weep. It must have something to do with all the losses he's facing: a recent retirement. Failing eyes. A broken heart-he's unable to let go of my mother, who's no longer with us. Which brings me back to the real question: why didn't I just reach out to you once I heard about your mother? The truth is, I got scared. I found myself hoping, with all my heart, that you would be the brave one to break our icy silence. And I thank you for that. I've been a coward. Maybe I just didn't know how to express the simple thing you said: I can't begin to tell you how much it would mean for us to reconnect. I won't trouble you with the details of my life right now. In summary: deep love, despair, deeper love, deeper despair, and now ... well, a sort of limbo place thanks to a lover who can't commit and my own confusion about intimacy, I'm trying to figure it all out, even though that's a bit like trying to lasso the moon. My heart goes out to you. My thoughts are with you, and your family. Despite the sad reason for your e-mail, I am extremely happy to hear from you. (Do you remember what loyal correspondents we were when we were kids?) Write again, if you have the time and the interest. Much love, Lilly P.S. How is "Golden Boy" ... Ben? Please send him my love.


Dear Lilly, I'm scattered and unfocused, broken. Losing my mother feels like an amputation. The psychic space within me that she still inhabits-will always inhabit?-has become a phantom pain. Excruciating, agonizing, relentless. And each time I realize she's gone forever-again and again, always as if it's the first time-I feel lightheaded and faint. Heartsick, too, as I obsessively count and recount the many years I spent pushing her away. All in a desperate attempt to "become" the person I, in fact, already was. Strangely enough, all this makes me realize how deeply I've missed you. I hunger for our friendship. Oh God, Lilly, we were so foolish. The only way I can make sense of what happened between us is to believe that perhaps we needed that terrible fight. Perhaps we were so fused at the soul as children that we had to separate in order to invent our adult selves. And perhaps we have both needed these long, dry years to heal the deep wound of rupture? Whatever the truth may be, I am so sorry for my part in all this, sorrier than I can ever say. Can you believe how old we are? Oh, Lillypad, let's be friends again! How are you really? Please write to me. Tell me everything, and then tell me more. Whatever happens next between us, speaking to you feels like a blessing. Maybe a renewed correspondence would be uplifting for both of us. Do you want to try? Your devoted friend, forever, Val


Lilly, I'm so ashamed of myself. I just reread your letter and then reread mine, and I realize that in my terrific preoccupation and self-absorption I didn't at all respond to what you wrote about your mother. What do you mean, she "is no longer with us"? What s going on? I'm filled with dread at the thought of more grief. And I apologize for my selfish letter. Please forgive me. Val


No, "Katherine the Great," as you used to call her, didn't pass away ... she ran away! Just one more act in the Stone family's ongoing saga. Even after twenty-six years, I'm sure you can remember our penchant for high drama. If I sound glib, forgive me. It was just so damn predictable. One morning, about six months ago, my mother left my father after forty-some-odd years of marriage. She just got up from breakfast with the dishes on the table and the kettle about to boil, and walked out the door. Perhaps she'd done one too many productions of A Doll's House. The sad and sorry truth: my mother never should have been married. And my father should have married someone else. She would have been much happier moving from one relationship to another. (Who does that remind you of? Yes, I am truly Katherine the Great's daughter.) And he was always looking for someone to be in awe of him, which she was not. I know I don't have to remind you of the blistering midnight battles that went on in my parents' bedroom, the ones we used to hear through the wall when you slept over. So, my mother is finally free, living on her own, downtown. I think she's dating. Big surprise ... what else is new? She doesn't want to talk to any of us, she said. Not until she "finds the Katherine she lost." It's like she's perpetually acting out her adolescence, even now, at seventy-three! My father spends every day grieving. This whole thing has aged him. Since he's no longer practicing, he spends a lot of time working on his orchids. His eyes always seem to have tears. He says it's the cataracts. I think it's his broken heart. You know, I tell myself I don't care about them splitting up. At age forty-seven, why should it matter? But at two in the morning last night I felt so very vulnerable and alone that I couldn't sleep. It was as if I was longing for something just out of my reach. And everything reminded me of my mother: her Italian shawl hanging on the back of my chair ... the poster she did for that Shakespeare festival, on the bedroom wall, with the picture of you in the corner! (Remember how she used your face for Puck?) The good news: I felt your presence with me and that provided great comfort. Lilly


Memory is so oddly selective. I can't remember the shape or the fabric of your mother's Italian shawl, but I can absolutely picture its blue-gray-purple-brown color. It always reminded me of firm, dirty plums. And then the frightening, strangely thrilling sound of your parents' screaming fights. (In the rooms of my, memory, those fights stand out like some ridiculously romantic 18th-century French furniture: perverse, ornate proof that they loved each other with passionate intensity. Something I felt my parents lacked.) And of course I've always thought your mother was unbearably generous for turning me into Puck. That poster was the first thing in my life to give me a vision of my own immortality. It made me feel so pretty and so important. The truth is, after I gasped in horror about Katherine's quicksilver escape from a kitchen filled with dirty breakfast dishes, I laughed out loud! Is it too soon to admit stuff like that to you? I hope not. You know I've always loved Katherine the Great. I know she was hard for you in lots of ways, but I always envied that your mother seemed more interested in her own life than in yours or anyone else's; I guess it was an instructive counterpoint to my mom's constant, cloistered, cloying over-involvement with me and everyone else. You know, the longer I write the weirder this feels. It's like the last twenty-six years have telescoped into about twenty-six minutes. But look what time has wrought. Our fathers are old and wounded. Our mothers are gone, mine to dust and yours into thin air. And it's just us left standing Oh, Lilly. Can we move past the past and stand together again? Do you remember my mother getting into a certain mood, when she'd get that spacey look on her face and intone in a super-quiet voice that was scarier than a whisper, "Don't look back, girls. It might look back at you." It always freaked us out. I never knew what it was supposed to mean. Or why she'd say such a thing to us. To me. Especially when I was so young. Now that she's gone, I can't help but wonder: was it a warning? God, Lilly, everything always comes back to my mother. But I can't start that again, not now. Please write to me. It would mean so much to hear from you. Val


Lilly, I can't believe I didn't tell you this before. I've slowly been going through all of Mom's possessions (which has been very painful, but that's another story). Anyway, among her many things I found a gorgeous flowered hat box-filled with your Recipe Club letters to me! Remember? They date all the way back to the beginning, when we were about ten years old. They were just as I had left them-a little yellower and crunchier for age, but still organized (even in the infancy of my anal-compulsive style) in chronological order, wrapped neatly in blue and white satin ribbons. Glancing at the postmarks makes me think that a bunch may have gone AWOL. Perhaps they're in a box I haven't yet uncovered. I've been reading them, laughing and crying. I realize now that they were truly my first love letters. You, dear Lilly, were the first friend I ever loved, and who loved me back, and whom I continue to love even after all this time apart. I just had to tell you that I found them. Just like I found you. XXX V.

JULY 22, 1963

Dear Val, Guess what? Daddy can drive me to your house. In two weeks! I think he misses your parents as much as I miss you, and that's a lot. But Mommy won't come. She says to tell you sorry. She has a new show. Don't worry about not knowing anybody yet. You always have me.

I wish I was your sister, too. Here is the recipe for the chocolate icebox cake you love. You have to leave it in the fridge overnight. It serves ten, unless Ben gets to it, and then it only serves him! Love, Lilly


Icebox Cake


2 cups heavy cream 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 35 chocolate wafer cookies 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate bits

1. In a large bowl, beat heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until stiff peaks form.

2. On one side of 6 chocolate wafers, spread about 2 heaping teaspoons whipped cream. Place them on top of each other to make a stack. Top the stack with a plain wafer. Continue making stacks like this until all the wafers are used. Turn each stack on its side. Place stacks side by side to make a big log on a plate. Frost log with the remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle with the chocolate bits. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.


Believe it or not, I have almost all of the Recipe Club letters you wrote to me, too! Mine were tossed into a cardboard box that is now mildewed and falling apart (unlike your neat and tidy system ... therein lies the difference between you and me, right?!). But the main thing is that we both kept them. And that tells me something important: we were always holding onto our friendship, despite what happened.

It's funny to hear you say such reverential things about my morn, the horrific battles between my parents, etc. I don't think you ever realized how terribly embarrassed I was that they fought the way they did.

I remember one time when you slept over, and they started going at it after an endless night of boozing. You sat up in bed, with your legs hanging over the edge, and said, "Lilly, don't worry." That's it. Just those few words. You came over and kissed my forehead. I remember feeling so loved. And then, the next morning at breakfast, you never said a word about their bizarre behavior. You never made me feel weird. I knew that you understood what went on and you weren't judging any of us for it. You taught me the foundation of trust. Was I there for you that way, too? I fear I wasn't. (After all, I come from the King and Queen of Narcissists. Who's to say that I didn't inherit their talent for self-absorption?)

So, enough about me ... what do you think about me? (Just kidding....) In truth, a lot has happened to your old friend since our fight. I went on tour with my cabaret act. I had some success, especially in San Francisco. The Chronicle said I sang a stellar rendition of Harold Arlen's "Blow Ill Wind." (I will admit, it's a song made for me. Nobody does it better.) I fell in love. (And nobody does that worse.) It lasted for all of three months. Yes, she was a singer. (Does the gender thing still bother you? I hope not. I always thought you had trouble understanding my need to love both women and men. Especially in college, when I first fell in love. You were so jealous! Did you feel I was deserting our friendship?)

Fast-forward to the present: I've stopped singing and started catering. Food seems to always be my fallback. As for love, after various meaningless men and women, one day last year I met Bertram. We've been together, off and on, ever since. He restores furniture: hand caning for old chairs. And let me tell you, those hands can work wonders in other ways, too! The thing is, he's married. (I know, I know, what else is new?) Sometimes I think I suffer from a family curse on my mother's side. Always in search of the unobtainable. Always craving something around the corner, just out of sight.

Okay ... so, life goes on. Let me know how you are. Hang in there.



Excerpted from The Recipe Club by ANDREA ISRAEL NANCY GARFINKEL Copyright © 2009 by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Lynne Rossetto Kasper

"Food and love without the schmaltz and warm fuzzies is what kept me turning the pages of this book. Yes, there are recipes, nostalgic and good ones, but the fascination is in how they mark the years of a childhood friendship struggling to become a life long one. If you're lucky enough to have that one true best friend, you'll find all the love, prickliness, laughter, blood curdling honesty, and joy here."--(Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table®, public radio's food show from American Public Media)

Bob Woodruff

"I've been to many combat zones, so I kn ow a real fight when I see one-and the characters in this book pull no punches. But what surprised me is how their conflict is just as engaging as their crazy humor and deep affection for each other. This book perfectly combines my two favorite things in the world: fiction and food. It's a great read."--(Bob Woodruff, ABC News anchor and journalist)

Isaiah Sheffer

"THE RECIPE CLUB is an extraordinary culinary fiction creation-a main dish consisting of a tender and poignant tale of love and friendship, served up with tasty sides of wonderful recipes. This is more than comfort food, it's haute literary cuisine."--(Isaiah Sheffer, host of National Public Radio's Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story)

Tanya Steel

"This moving story, about two close friends connecting and reconnecting through food and cooking, contains on e of my favorite lines written to date: 'So, how do you fix a broken heart? Maybe with ricotta cheese.'"--(Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of and co-author of Real Food for Healthy Kids)

Giulia Melucci

"I found elements of every one of my own friendships in the 40-year relationship between Lilly and Val, the heroines of this delicious and delightful novel. I also discovered heaps of recipes that I can't wait to try out. Authors Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel bring to life the joys as well as the disappointments inherent in attachments between women, and the power of food to sustain intimacy when those bonds are strained. I nodded in recognition as I hungrily devoured this satisfying and surprising story."--(Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti)

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Recipe Club 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
LondonGirl1 More than 1 year ago
Lilly and Val are best friends. They are the typical pairing of friends, as one is dramatic and charismatic, while the other is her other half to include shyness and a lacking of self confidence. The two friends started a letter writing habit at a young age and decided they would call it their Recipe Club and have a recipe included with each letter they wrote to each other. The letters chronicle the happenings in the lives of each girl with a recipe that often has a name derived from that event. Such names include Good Karma Veggie Samosa and Apple and Pear Friendship Fool, with the book containing 80 recipes. Overall, I liked the book. However, it seemed at times the characters were annoying and you wanted to tell them to stop bickering. The characters seemed more enemies than friends for most of the book and the ending didn't seem to fit well with the the overall concept of what had taken place during their lives. I think I would have liked the characters to have more depth so that the reader could have a better connection with them.
Nicole309 More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with all the good ratings for this book. It reminds me of something I would have read in Junior High. It was not just the subject matter, but the predictable plot that did not grab me at all. I'm not sure why so many rated this so well. It was not for me.
faith42love on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This heartwarming book was so creative and fun to read. It begins as emails going back and forth through two former friends. We can tell there is some tension and you immediately want to know why. The book then flashes backwards to the childhood of these friends, through Pen Pal type letters. The letters dont tell you everything like a book does. You never are privy to what happens between each letter or when the girls are together unless they write about it to each other. With the letters they send each other recipes. Some of them are easy and quick to make and others become more complicated and experimental. You get to grow up with Lilly and Val, experience love, loss and fun. After the misunderstand separates them, the book transforms into a typical fashion, giving the reader a bit more focus into the life of the two women. It then ends full circle with emails. I found this approach so interesting.If you are anything like me the story will engross you and you will need to clear your schedule to read this book in one sitting.
DonnerLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship is mainly told in emails and letters with lots of recipes included. I have never read a novel with this format before and I was pleasantly surprised by it. The letters provided insight into Lilly and Valerie as each of them told their side of the story. The authors did a great job channeling the strong emotions of both the main characters. When Lilly and Valerie attempt to reconnect after the death of Valerie's mother, I was shocked at how quickly they angered with each other and how fast they both started blaming what happened on anyone other than themselves. The letter format also made this book a fast read for me. I was able to read a few letters and then put the book down if I needed to do something else and it was easy to pick up right where I left off.Lilly and Valerie were very different characters and I wonder if they would have remained friends for so long if their families were not closely tied together in other ways. The creation of the recipe club seemed to give them some common ground when they would have otherwise gone their separate ways. There are definitely some recipes shared by the characters that I want to try!The third section of this novel threw me off for a little bit as the writing switched back to a more traditional narrative. In reading the letters between the girls, I felt like a part of their recipe club and that I actually knew each of them. The change in style felt like it pushed me back to the outside as a mere observer of the action. For me, the change in style also lessened the emotional impact of that section of the story, which is actually quite an important bit.Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship and I am looking forward to trying out some of the recipes.Thank you so much to Caitlin at FSB Associates for sending me an advance review copy of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship.
Cherylk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lilly and Valerie used to be the best of friends. Something happened along the way that shook them both. Neither Valerie nor Lilly could recover after that. It has been years since they have spoken. Valerie¿s mother pasted away last month. She realizes it is about time to put the past behind them. She sends Lilly an email. Lilly responds. When Valerie goes through her mom¿s possessions, she finds old letters that she and Lilly wrote each other as well as the recipes they shared when they formed The Recipe Club. Valerie and Lilly start reminiscing about the good old times. Flash back to the year 1963. Valerie¿s mother is not well. Lilly¿s dad is a psychiatrist. He visits almost daily. Whenever he comes to visit, it seems that Valerie¿s mother has a good day. This is how Lilly and Valerie became friends. Lilly brings up the idea of starting a recipe club. I absolutely fell in love with Lilly, Valerie and the Recipe Club. Authors Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel wrote with such passion. I literally had a hard time putting this book down. Every time I would start to walk away, I would find myself running back and picking it up again. Valerie and Lilly both had a various range of depth and emotion. I experienced everything with them from¿first loves, loss, anger, and betrayal. This book was so good that the delicious recipes included in this book are just a bonus. I can¿t wait to try them all out. They had my mouth watering. I hope Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel write another book together.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a big, gorgeous, appealing mix of a book. It's an epistolary novel. It has recipes. It has pictures and doodles. In short, it is a beautifully designed, lovely feeling book. All of it wrapped up together should have equalled a book I'd rave over. And it was good, it just wasn't great.Opening with childhood friends Lilly and Val reconnecting after years of silence, the friends start exchanging e-mails, thrilled to be speaking again. Until they have to face the issue that originally tore them apart, where it becomes obvious that each is still laboring under a cloud of hurt and recrimination and their versions of what destroyed their friendship in the first place are diametrically opposed. Before things get acrimonious between them again, they did recall fondly the Recipe Club they created as children whereby they sent each other letters and recipes on a regular basis. The second part of the book takes the reader back to the beginnings of the Recipe Club and to the innocent times of their childhood. As they exchange letters through the years, their characters are revealed more fully as are their perceptions of their parents and others around them. The recipes included with the letters refer to something discussed in the letter or created as a reaction to an event. And the letters from these girls turning into young women continue on until the betrayal that is too big to be forgiven.The third section of the book initially eschews the letter and e-mail format of the previous sections, instead using third person narration whereby Val discovers that Lilly's father has passed away. And this is the catalyst for a second reconnection between the women and the exposure of an explosive secret that changes everything. Lilly and Val must come to understand and forgive events far beyond their own control if they want to have any kind of relationship at all.I love the premise of the book and the presentation but I thought the letters exchanged by the girls early on were a bit too sophisticated and in depth for their ages. I wrote letters to friends from the time I was in 3rd grade and saved all of their letters to me and the letters from Lilly and Val seem far more introspective and thoughtful than the letters my friends and I exchanged. The argument could certainly be made that Lilly and Val were just more sophisticated girls than my friends and I were but the fact that the letters never change in tone or point to emotional maturation on Lilly and Val's parts would then be incredibly troubling given their ages at the start of their Recipe Club.The narrative arc of the story is well managed and the gaps in the narrative, while frustrating, would be true of a friendship based mainly on letters. As time went on in the story, the recipes did become more sophisticated, as would be expected. I flagged many of the recipes and they look really tasty. The theme of family and friendship and how they are created and maintained, how they inform and shape a person, and how they can break down is strong here. Having lost several very close friends over the years, I empathized with Lilly and Val's plight. But I had a tough time getting past Val's neediness and Lilly's superiority. Obviously this is a personal reaction to the characters as they are drawn and other readers might react entirely differently. I so wanted to be wowed by this book but was left vaguely disappointed and feeling just a little flat.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lilly and Val have been friends their whole lives.Yet the story starts with an e-mail where you soon learn that they have not talked to each other in over two decades.Although you are initially introduced to Val and Lilly in the 21st century, you quickly jump to their first letters and the start of their Recipe Club some thirty years earlier when they are young girls. Although the story is told in epistolary fashion - I found it quite unique and entertaining to read it this way. Through their letters and e-mails you learn of Valerie and Lilly's friendship, their parents, school and how each girl grows up to be the woman you first encounter at the beginning of the story. You are taken through a young girl's insecurities, to first sexual encounters, college, drugs, dreams of being famous, etc., and through it all there is a recipe that somehow coincides and goes perfectly with whatever situation or mood they are in.I loved all the little details - from the doodling on the corners, to the different fonts, titles and colored papers used for the recipes. I love the signatures at the bottom of each letter (ValPal; Lillypad) - just by that you could tell how each girl was growing up as they slowly change throughout the course of the book.I will forewarn that since it is basically a compilation of e-mails and letters, you are only privy to their lives as they write about it - you only get glimpses as to what happens between each letter, and that includes the times when the girls are together, unless they write about it you don't truly know what goes on. But in the end it really worked for me. I found it engrossing andI couldn't help but want to read more and more in order to get to the heart of their strife.It is a heartwarming tale of two girls that you can only hope can overcome their differences and make it through stronger in the end. It is a story about friendship, love, loss, forgiveness and hope. This is feel-good chick-lit that I can definitely recommend.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fabulous read. This book is a novel about friendship, a cookbook, and a history of the relationship of two women from the time they are in their pre-teens through a 20+ year hiatus after a disagreement, and to the present when they reunite.The recipes are numerous and diverse, cleverly woven into the story of Lilly and Val, and their parents. The girls form a Recipe Club, correspond via mail, and help each other throughout their lives, up to the time when Val graduates from college.The book is written not just in the letters, but also as emails (when the relationship takes up again in 2000) and also has a section written in normal fiction format.It is an elegant, thoughtful, delicious book. You have to love the two characters, although you also want to smack them. You have to wonder how two people who are so different in so many ways, can stay such good friends. And then you wonder as you work your way through the book, what caused the estrangement.The ending of the book was quite surprising to me, but I think I should have seen it coming. It's a well-written, well=planned book that will be enjoyed by women of all ages.
jmchshannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had absolutely no expectations about this book when I started, other than I hoped to get a few recipes to try on my family out of the deal. Instead, I found an enjoyable read that kept me turning the page. I have to admit that the subject matter itself was extremely painful. Who hasn't experienced at least one tumultuous relationship with a girlfriend while growing up? Then I started thinking about Val and Lilly's relationship? Did Lilly truly ever like Val? Lilly accuses Val of being needy, but is she really? So many questions, so many left unanswered...I personally related more to Val. I felt she was more down-to-earth and just more me. She seemed more forgiving of the two and tolerant of Lilly's brush-offs and erratic behavior. Because I could relate more to her experiences, this definitely tainted my opinion of Lilly, to the point where I was willing to forgive Val for her faults but not Lilly.I do feel that the ending appeared a bit contrived. After thirty-plus years of being apart, I have my doubts as to whether any future relationship would be a strong one. In my opinion, there is too much baggage, too much emotional damage from the years apart. I love how well the letters and the recipes tell the story. It was by far my favorite part of the book. The growth of the characters through their individual letters is poignant and yet extremely realistic. I also enjoyed how that as Val and Lilly age, everything about the story does as well - from the verbiage and sentence structure to the experiences to the moods to their thoughts. The recipes themselves were okay. While there are one or two I want to try, most of them I felt were nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking on the culinary front. I imagine I could find better recipes online in a thirty-second search. However, as the recipes are only the backdrop to the story, I am okay with generic ones I could find in Betty Crocker. Overall, I really enjoyed The Recipe Club. It did dredge up some painful memories of childhood friendships, but it is good to reflect on how wise that pain made me today. I have yet to try one of the recipes in the book, but I have my eye on the chocolate cake recipe in there. That one definitely had my mouth watering! Thank you to Caitlin Price from FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book!
miamismartgirl09 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship is an interesting book that is seperated into 3 or 4 sections.The first is a story of 2 mid-age women reconnecting their friendship after one of their mothers passes away. This is told through an e-mail format.When they realize that they are too different and their friendship can not be what it once was, we look int the past and their background story is told through pen pal letters (and recipes). The story is then moved back the present day and told much like a regular book, going back and forth between the 2 women.Lastly, the story is then told through e-mail format again, in the present day.Because I was not expecting the e-mail format at the beginning (nor the pen pal letters in the middle), it took me sometime to start reading the book. But one I began, I learned that I loved the characters and it was a very quick read.
GrannySmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The most basic requirement the successful author of fiction must meet is to make her work believable. If you're writing pure fantasy like The Prophecy of Zephyrus, a future yet to come or a world that does not exist, this is a relatively easy burden to meet. The minute you choose to set your fiction in a historical time period, however, you are writing historical fiction and must then present history accurately in order to make your writing believable. And the closer the time period about which you are writing is to the time in which you write, the more diligent you must be, because there will always be someone like me who remembers the time period about which you write in some detail.And so we come to The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship, the story of two women, friends as young girls, now reconnecting in adulthood. The reader first meets the younger Silly & Valerie in a series of pen letters the girls have exchanged beginning on April 2, 1964, as the girls are looking forward to their twelfth birthdays. Almost immediately authors Israel & Garfinkel commit the ultimate fiction failure. By May 4 the girls are talking about a proposed trip to the theater to see Fiddler on the Roof. Fiddler on the Roof would not even open on Broadway until September 22, 1964.There is something very special about 1964 however, something that every 12 year old girl in the United States would have been all agog over, because 1964 was the year of the British Invasion, the year that teens of my generation first heard of The Beatles, the Dave Clark Five & the Rolling Stone. From the time the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan on February 9, 1964, they became the main topic of musical conversation for American teens. Fiddler? Who knew - and nobody cared.On August 2, 1964, Silly Lillypad writes to Val at camp, telling her that her mother's "new friend Angelo" had given her "purple bell bottoms, an orange mid-riff shirt . . . and a beaded headband". Sorry - not in this lifetime or that one. In 1964 Jackie Kennedy was still setting fashion trends for American women. It would be nearly two years before the male members of my generation won the right to grow their hair below their earlobes (my friend Larry took gym with the girls in a girl's gym suit and a pink hair net for an entire year and a half because he would not cut his hair!) and teen girls all over the country were still getting detentions for raising their hems over their knees. Bell bottoms, midriff shirts and beaded head bands were the teen uniform of the early 70's, not 1964. And even then, those bell bottoms were invariably jeans, not purple.Over and over, on nearly every page, I found myself dropping this book mid-sentence to double check my memory against the available record. At the most basic level - historical believability - The Recipe Club is an abject failure.Let me further comment on the included recipes, which according to the authors were especially designed for this project. Those, too, are often inappropriate for the time period, adding to the unbelievability of this book. Recipe collecting teens of the 1960s & 1970s (I was one) would have generally acquired their recipes from Home Economics class, the Betsy McCall column in McCall's magazine, Ask Susan in Good Housekeeping or the recipe column of the local newspaper. Rural teens would have also had access to 4H & Farm Journal. There are thousands of still-extant exemplars or recipes authentic to the time period. Many of these simply are not. Chicken came whole or cut up, not as just thighs. The grocery store did not carry cilantro and hardly anyone's kitchen had fresh garlic unless it was time to can pickles or the family was Italian. Olive oil was not a common ingredient in most American kitchens and was widely believed to go rancid rapidly along with imparting strange flavors to food. Authentic recipes of the time would have specified vegetable oil or Mazola. Extra-virgin? Virginity was somethi
bremmd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I know there are some people (one of my sisters to be specific) who don't like epistolary novels. (I should own up to have to look up the the spelling of this I think it would sound better as epistlatory which of course is dead wrong) Anyway, I know reading a story told in letter form is not some folks cup of tea but I like them or at least I don't mind them. Especially a well written one. Though I guess that could be said about any book, if it's well written then it's a good book, no matter, r...more I know there are some people (one of my sisters to be specific) who don't like epistolary novels. (I should own up to have to look up the the spelling of this I think it would sound better as epistlatory which of course is dead wrong) Anyway, I know reading a story told in letter form is not some folks cup of tea but I like them or at least I don't mind them. Especially a well written one. Though I guess that could be said about any book, if it's well written then it's a good book, no matter, right?The story of two life long friends and the ups and downs of their lives together and apart told through the letters they send each other through childhood until a terrible fight tears them apart. Then after life changing events they begin to write again, this time via email, to reveal a secret that will either tear them apart or bring the together forever. Along the way the Val and Lilly share their love of cooking by sharing recipes in their "Recipe Club" of two.I loved these two girls, then women and the way their personalities are slowly revealed over the course of their letters. Their hopes and dreams and the relationship between their families that will end up effecting their lives more than they could ever imagine.This was a well told story told in bits and pieces. While the great secret was easily guessed it didn't stop the story from being very enjoyable and well rounded. Plus the recipes sound very yummy and there really is something for every taste.
cyderry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All of us in our lifetime have somehow "misplaced" a friend or someone who was extremely important at one time in our lives. This is the story of two women who were best friends, who helped each other through puberty, adolescence, and much more and then due to a miscommunication, lost that closeness and drifted apart. Lilly and Val are two enormously different people and yet you see, in this book, how a friendship that was forged in childhood could be integrated into adulthood. They shared everything, their differences and their similarities and struggled through the errors that we all make as we grow up.I loved this book. I received it and I am so proud that this book was a first giveaway on my book blog. It was delightful, so much so that I couldn't put it down which is something that happens rarely for me. The story is told in the form of letters and e-mails and the Recipes that are included sound absolutely scrumptious. Makes me want to start a recipe club myself.My only problem with this book was trying to decide where to shelve it - cookbooks or fiction - it would fit either.
Tea58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From the time I picked up "The Recipe Club" by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel I never could stop reading without getting the jitters to get back to this book. It's such a powerful book about friendship, family and just plain life. Valerie and Lilly write to each other for years. Included in the letters are wonderful recipes. These recipes seem to fit whatever is happening in their life or whatever they are thinking about at that time or not thinking about at that time. So, there are recipes named: Conspiracy Apple pie, Chocolate-dipped cookies and Opera cake with more recipes I haven't named.Val and Lilly are totally different in temperament. In the early years Lilly is anxious to break free and experience life. She doesn't necessarily need a friend's support. She wonders what sex is like. She wants to go all the way and soon, like now. Val isn't in such a hurry. She's willing to wait for an oral report from Lilly about that deeper intimacy. She goes to college while Lillypad, this is what Val sometimes calls Lilly. Lilly fights against going to college.These girls have way different personalities. I thought friendship was based on our "shared likes." Well, we aren't given a elementary school reader about how to make a friend. We just fall in to sharing our chocolate chip cookie and peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the little girl or boy who stands close to us during a spelling bee or at recess. We hope in our subconscious this person will magically like what we like to eat, what we like to play and what we like to laugh at on television.I really paid attention when Lilly and Val began to show and speak their differences to one another. Guess what! It is allowable. The friendship won't necessarily fall apart. Friends might grow closer. There are just periods of time out.It is fascinating to read this long correspondence. Because we also learn about each girl's families. Both girls have interesting mothers and fathers. Lilly's mom is a drama queen, actress, runaway wife. While Val's mom is stuck in a painful mental state not able to do or say much to Val without crying or hiding herself for days on end. Lilly's father, Isaac, is a Psychologist, an extrovert. while Val's father is quiet, gentle, almost invisible. I suppose the behaviors of both mothers and fathers explains the Psychology of both Val and Lilly and Ben, Lilly's brother.I loved some of the illustrations in the book. One sticks out to me the red "get out of jail" card. While protesting the Viet Nam war two of these people are thrown in jail. Then, there is the big, red question mark. On the dot of the question mark are the words "Who ARE You?" The question mark is all about one of the girl's not feeling she knows or understands the other girl any longer. There is an identity crisis going on between friends.I could go on and on about "The Recipe Club." I didn't know the olive symbolized patience and peace. Smilingly I admit to not knowing my parents led a life before I entered their world. Have you ever thought about silent trash trucks? When we were small, did we know life could grow so complicated, more complicated than Darwin's Star orchid? Ok, now I can take a deep breath. I already miss Val, Ben and Valerie. Maybe I should write a longhand letter to a friend. That might make me feel better. Oh, in the letter I must include my apple fritter recipe. Great book.
detailmuse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A mostly epistolary novel, The Recipe Club opens in April 2000 with an email exchange -- an attempted reconciliation between former childhood friends Val and Lilly, now in their forties. It then backs up to the 1960s to trace that childhood friendship from its heyday of their ¿recipe club¿ (a pen-pal exchange of letters and recipes), to a falling out in early adulthood and then decades of estrangement.There¿s an easily guessed plot twist and an over-the-top-tidy ending, but this book is heavier on nostalgia than on story. And beyond the book¿s epigraph*, there¿s little insight -- I keep thinking of other wise, young narrators I¿ve read but that is not these girls. Their angst-y letters might interest a teen reader, but this book is marketed (based on the nostalgia and reconciliation aspects, I suppose) to middle-aged women. Its epistolary structure and recipes had interested me, but I was disappointed in both -- the recipes are mostly old standards, and I¿ve read better epistolaries (though still not an excellent one...)* Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. --Anais Nin
julyso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved, loved, LOVED this book!!!
rawlski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers ¿ I had given up hope of receiving it as it took over 11 months to find me! The Recipe Club tells the story of two women who reconnect after a death of a parent after not speaking for over 20 years due to a misunderstanding. The book is mostly written through letters and recipes, which are part of the ¿Recipe Club¿ that the girls started. This made the book a very fast and easy read. Each recipe is named after what is going on in each girl¿s life at the time of the letter. While the book is marketed for adult readers, it seemed to be more appropriate for a young adult reader. While I found the book to be entertaining, it isn¿t one that I would read again.
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MinnesotaReader More than 1 year ago
"The Recipe Club" is an engaging, unique novel/cookbook that celebrates the power of women's friendships. It tells the story of childhood friends, Lilly and Valerie, who each have very distinct personalities and live vastly different lives. Separated by distance, they begin exchanging intimate letters, with a recipe included that reflects the events in their lives. Both sets of parents complicate matters for the two. During their college years, an argument leads to an estrangement, which lasts for 26 years. In the end, a secret changes their lives forever. This compelling book is a totally different type of reading experience that kept me turning the pages. The story is creatively told through the two friends' letters, drawings, e-mails, and also a narrator. This allowed me to feel and experience their lives right along with them. I learned about each girl's family and enjoyed watching their friendship evolve. There are more than 80 tantalizing recipes cleverly woven throughout the story. I truly enjoyed reading this entertaining book and look forward to trying some of the recipes. I definitely recommend it for everyone, especially fiction/cookbook lovers!
Atthebeach More than 1 year ago
By about page 20 or 25, this book had grabbed me and wouldn't let go. At first, it seemed a simple story about old friends who had long ago lost touch and regained it at a time of sorrow for one via e-mail. But the hints were there that there was so much more to it than that. The two women (about 25 years later, after some bizarre "incident" that parted them) began to communicate again. They were careful, but glad to re-connect, yet they bickered, cautiously moved forward, bickered some more, argued, made up---all via the e-mails. Their communications began to move back and forth between these adult e-mails and old letters from their childhood and youth that both had kept and they finally re-read. The plot unfolds via the earlier letters and grows to a flourish as the end of the earlier friendship explodes. Along the way, we learn that The Recipe Club was a two-girl club they created in which they would write long letters about their thoughts and feelings and include each time a recipe. They had once gone to the same school, but ended up living far enough apart in the NYC area that long public transport rides were required to see each other. So the letters became their glue. Their families also had an odd and secret connection, and occasional get-togethers, which the girls accepted but did not understand. The girls had very different personalities and lifestyles and both admired and disdained what the other had. They learned from each other, but would never be much alike. They didn't seem natural friends, yet the connection between them was oddly very strong. When family issues came to an strange and volatile head (in their youth), one they still don't understand, they came apart, became angry and took off in their own directions. The gap of many, many years ends with the death of a parent. Then the e-mails begin and tell the story of their adult lives, their former feelings, friendship, suspicions, jealousies and pull the mystery together with a wild flourish. And another explosion and parting. It all becomes clear in the end and the mystery is solved with high drama and emotion and.....I won't spoil the end. But as this bizarre story unfolds, I could not stop reading. At every point I thought I should stop, I would decide to read one more letter or e-mail, and then another, until I had read much farther ahead. And then the book ended and I missed reading it immediately. It's a great, riveting story told engagingly and dramatically all via the letters and e-mails---a unique method that actually works far better than I had expected.
alexia561 More than 1 year ago
This was a very interesting book, as it is told almost entirely through the two friend's correspondence. Part One starts off the book with the two friends trying to reconnect via email after 26 years apart. Then Part Two goes back to their early friendship and the start of their Recipe Club, where they exchange recipes along with their letters. It takes us all the way up to their big argument which ends the friendship, then we come back to the present with Part Three, which takes place 2 years after Part One. It's not confusing at all, honest! Despite being mostly restricted to letters and emails, we still get to know Val and Lilly and watch their friendship evolve as the girls get older. Both sets of parents play a large role in shaping the girls and their friendship, and I liked the extra touch of having the girl's letters go from a child's scrawl on notebook paper to more grown-up stationary as the girls get older. Same thing with the included recipes. Parts One and Two are strictly emails and letters, but Part Three is a combination of traditional storytelling and emails. Thought the authors handled the transition very well, as I don't see how Part Three could have been told only through emails. All in all, thought they did a great job with the entire book! Gave this book a 4/5 rating as it had a good plot, the use of emails and letters was very well executed, and the writing and characters were also well done. Also liked the recipes sprinkled throughout the book, and have earmarked a few to try. There's even a recipe index at the back, which I thought was another nice touch! I enjoyed reading this original book and look forward to reading more from these two talented ladies!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BloodyBad More than 1 year ago
This heartwarming book was so creative and fun to read. It begins as emails going back and forth through two former friends. We can tell there is some tension and you immediately want to know why. The book then flashes backwards to the childhood of these friends, through Pen Pal type letters. The letters dont tell you everything like a book does. You never are privy to what happens between each letter or when the girls are together unless they write about it to each other. With the letters they send each other recipes. Some of them are easy and quick to make and others become more complicated and experimental. You get to grow up with Lilly and Val, experience love, loss and fun. After the misunderstand separates them, the book transforms into a typical fashion, giving the reader a bit more focus into the life of the two women. It then ends full circle with emails. I found this approach so interesting. If you are anything like me the story will engross you and you will need to clear your schedule to read this book in one sitting.