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 eighty delicious recipes.
Lifelong friends Lilly and Val are united as much by their differences as by their similarities. 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." The Recipe Club sustains Lilly and Val's bond across the decades: through the challenges of independence, the joys and heartbreaks of first love, and the emotional complexities of family relationships, identity, mortality, and goals deferred—until the fateful day when an act of kindness becomes an unforgivable betrayal.
I love books that are set up as letters between two people. At the beginning of the novel the two women are exchanging email because on of their parents has just died. At first it seems like the two are striking back up a friendship that suffered a rift many years ago, but then the reach an impasse and call it off. Then we go back to the 1960's and 1970's and read letters between the two as children. Things get fleshed out, insight is given, and things start to make sense.
I loved the letters and the childhood feelings and insecurities that are shown, how much more dramatic an eighteen year old is than a forty year old, how much they want to find themselves and find their place and be loved and accepted by their parents. In many of the letters a recipe is exchanged. I found myself wanting to try out the recipes. I haven't as of yet, but there are a few I may. I am torn because I usually pass along books I read unless I know I want to read it again, but with all the recipes I may save this one a little longer to have the chance to try them. It may even go with my recipe books in the kitchen cabinet.
I liked Valerie more than Lilly, but could see traits of who I used to be in some of both of their actions, especially some of Lilly's. Part of her growing up and fitting in and having boyfriends, not the singing and performing parts.
The last part that brought them up to their present, or second to last part I guess, where it was actually in a regular novel format was my least favorite, I was glad when they went back to emails and letters. Some of it was tied up a bit tidier than I would have liked, but I was satisfied with the ending.
•Pub. Date: September 2010
•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 342pp