My friend (and fellow Blogcritic writer, Chelsea) and I were recently talking about how chick lit nowadays seems to equate with a lot of fluffiness and little substance. Yes it was amusing following Becky Bloomwood (of Shopaholic fame) while she figured out how to put her life back together after nearly burying herself in debt, but how inspirational is it that a smart, 21st century woman from England falls prey again and again to the exact same pattern of behaviour? While it makes for great fluff, it get rather depressing by the fifth book to realize that Becky will never change. And if a fictional character can’t change, what hope is there for us real people?
This conversation was the first time I was verbalizing something that has been niggling at me for a long while; why aren’t there more chick books à la Jennifer Weiner or à la The Knitting Club? Jennifer Weiner’s books are easy to read, packed with laughter and yet with quite a lot of substance. The Knitting Club was the same; a charming, heart-warming and at times heart-breaking story of very different women who come together because of their love for knitting and who struggle throughout the book to better themselves, all the while making for easy and laughter filled reading.
Sorry Becky, but you have overstayed your welcome.
I’m really happy to be able to add another title to my list of great chick lit with substance. The Recipe Club is a charming, heart-warming and at the same time heart-breaking tale of two best friends who struggle through the typical ups and downs of a friendship between two extremely different people. Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel's novel is mostly a collection of letters, recipes and emails that were exchanged throughout the course of a long friendship between two best friends, Lilly and Valerie. The story finishes off with a small section of narration and a couple of invitations to special events you will be privy to when you read the book.
But this review is not like a movie trailer; it will not provide you with spoilers, nor hand you on a platter its best parts.
As many know, friendships are not always (if ever) easy; they take effort to begin, maintain and sustain, and can be quite exhausting. On the flip side, friendships are irreplaceable pieces of one’s life; as the saying goes, girlfriends really are the sisters we choose for ourselves.
The Recipe Club doesn’t follow a typical choronology, and yet doesn’t confuse us as much as, say, The Time-Traveler’s Wife did (which, by the way, is another awesome book everyone should read). It begins in the year 2000, right after Valerie’s mother passes away; she reaches out to Lilly, her best friend whom we quickly figure out she hasn’t seen in over 20 years.