by Ann Pearlman
Simon & Shuster Ltd, United Kingdom, 2010
Age group: late teen – adult
Format: 288 page paperback
Absolutely about Christmas, this book is an unusual look at individuals, relationships and people supporting each other. It also inspires yummy cooking!
A group of 12 women meet on the first Monday each December to swap cookies and stories of their lives.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, either in format or depth, so I was pleasantly surprised to quite enjoy it.
The story centres around one woman, Marnie, starting with her thinking of her daughters and preparing for the Christmas Cookie Club get together that night. After that, each chapter adds in a new woman, giving us a taste of her life and personality. I found that adding characters one at a time like that made it easier to remember who was who (although I did still have to flick back a few times!) and it also gave a real feel for each character.
The premise of the club (and it is based on a real club the author belongs to) is that each person makes some biscuits (cookies) of her choice, bringing a dozen for each other member of the club plus a dozen as a donation to a charity. Each women then goes home with 12 beautifully packaged biscuit dozens!
In presenting her biscuits, each woman tells a story about the biscuits and/or the packaging. We also get a copy of the recipe of the biscuits discussed so you can literally taste your way through this book! I haven’t yet used any of those recipes but intend to try at least a few of them. I also like that each recipe is in a different font, with some sort of connection to the woman or recipe.
Yes, the book got me thinking of starting a Christmas Biscuit Club or something similar – and I note Pearlman has since written another book to help those inspired – The Christmas Cookie Cookbook: All the Rules and Delicious Recipes to Start Your Own Holiday Cookie Club. I haven’t yet done anything about organising such a club – have you been to one or started one? What did you think of it? I must admit the thought of cooking 12 or 13 dozen biscuits is somewhat intimidating!
Reading this book, I noticed a lot of relationship issues were raised (in a realistic and empathetic way). It turns out that Pearlman is a psychotherapist and marriage therapist so she has some insights, and her autobiography, Infidelity, sounds like a very interesting book about the impact of marital infidelity. The two books together would make an interesting Christmas gift, I think.
So do I recommend it? Yes, if you want a heart warming story that goes beyond shallow relationship and happy endings for everyone, and a story about Christmas traditions worth having.