Friday, October 29, 2010

Stories Inspired by Jane Austen, A Never-Ending Saga Continues with Allegra Goodman’s The Cookbook Collector.

If there’s one thing that a bookseller can count on, it’s that Jane Austen will inspire a contemporary novelist. Some of the novels are more derivative than others. Last year’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies launched a raft of woud-be’s, most recently Emma and theVampires. Then there are those historicals that are released with almost endless repetition. Mr. Darcy’s This, Mr. Darcy’s That—you can understand that when you’re talking romance, it’s all Darcy, Darcy, Darcy.

But it’s not all genre and gimmick. So many authors are inspired by the spirit of Jane Austen and her plots. This year’s Man Booker winner, Howard Jacobson, has been often called the Jewish Jane Austen, and the book, The Finkler Question, released in the United States on the day of the prize announcement, has been quite popular. It’s said to be the first comedy to win the prize. Could that be true? Read more in The New York Times review.

Allegra Goodman’s novel, The Cookbook Collector, is a great addition to the Jane Austen-esque library. it’s about two sisters in 1980’s Silicon Valley (really, nobody wants to set their novels now, it’s either 10+ years in the past or 100 years in the future), one the CEO of a tech company and the other a second-hand bookseller. Can the older sister get rich investing in a start-up? Does the younger sister care? And what of these cookbooks that have landed in the bookstore? It’s a comedy that casts a wide net. Reviews have been just wonderful and I have been told that I would love it. Heck, I’ve read every other Goodman, including the more obscure short story collections. But I haven’t read this yet, so I proclaim The Cookbook Collector my favorite book I haven’t read this year. Here’s a review in Slate.

Note, there can only be one of these at a time. Once the events slow down, I’ll have to choose a new pretender to the throne.

As we just received our restock of plush Jane Austens, to go with the Austen action figure, which was by far the best selling of the line, it seemed time to do another Austen table. We haven't had one in...weeks.

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