Book Review

Book Review : “The Christmas Cookie Club” by Ann Pearlman.

What would we do without one another? It was a statement, not a question. Each of us knew the answer for herself. Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish and a bottle of wine and, as they eat, they take turns telling the story of the cookies they have baked. Stories that, somehow, are always emblematic of the year that has just passed. This year, the stories are especially important. Marnie’s oldest daughter has a risky pregnancy. Will she find out tonight how that story will end? Jeannie’s father is having an affair with her best friend. Who else knew about the betrayal? Rosie’s husband doesn’t want children, but can she live with his decision? Each woman, each friend has a story to tell. The Cookie Club is about the passion and hopefulness of a new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, and above all, it’s a celebration of the friendships between women.

Over the last few years I’ve read a few of these club based books including knitting clubs and book clubs but never before a club based around baking. I always enjoy them to a certain extent, but I haven’t yet found one that I loved. The idea always appeals, a group of women bonded over a shared interest and the chance to snoop into the lives of them all. I’d hoped that this book would be the one I fell in love with, the combination of the Christmas theme and baking sounded like a wonderful blend. Sadly though, this book fell short of my expectations.

The plot is narrated by Marnie, the host of the annual Cookie Club. Each chapter is devoted to a different member of the cookie club, it begins with the recipe for their cookies and then follows them telling the story of the cookies. In addition to this there is a section between each chapter where Marnie talks about the history of specific ingredients. I found myself skimming over these sections, they didn’t add anything to the story and when the book was as slim as it was I wished the pages had been given over to more plot.

The fact that Marnie is narrating however means that we’re only able to see the other members of the group as she sees them, and we only hear about the parts of their lives that Marnie is involved in or has been consulted on. She also has a tendency to be reminded of memories by the tiniest thing and then goes off on a tangent. Marnie’s story is wound throughout all of the chapters, as a result she comes across at times as being a little self obsessed – everyone else’s problems remind her something wrong or challenging in her own life. By the end of the book I didn’t feel like I knew much about any of the characters, this was a shame as there were some characters that I found really interesting and I did wish I knew more about them.

All in all this book was a bit of a let down. My search for the perfect club book will just have to continue!

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