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I have a real penchant for books that are either set around or based on Christmas, so when i dug this book out of my "to read" pile, i wasn't really sure how i had overlooked it up until now!
The book is described as "the perfect recipe for friendship this Christmas"....i do love a feel good book!
The book in question is - "The Christmas cookie club - Ann Pearlman".
Every year on the first Monday of December Marnie (the main character) and her twelve closest friends meet, each having to bring wine, a food dish and homemade cookies, enough for the rest of the group and also a local hospice.
What actually happens is a chance to meet and catch up with each other, with the cookies being a physical representation of the year they have just gone through, so the choice of cookie has to be personal to each person.
What ensues is a wonderful and at time heartwrenching tale of women and their lifes, which as you know will always be hard, as real life usually is!
Marnie lost her husband to leukemia in his early 30's, and after a second marriage full of betrayel is struggling to commit to her new partner.
Couple that with her two daughters being pregnant, one a gymslip mum of sorts, trying to make a go of it with a young wannabe rapper, and her eldest who is pregnant for the fourth time, with her last baby being stillborn, Marnie still feels she has a lot to be thankful for, with that being her wonderful circle of friends, who are all struggling with problems, but will come together under the guise of the cookie club, and offer love and support to each other.
When i read the synopsis i originaly felt this would be a fluffy little read, one that would leave me feeling all warm, fuzzy and Christmassy inside, what i actually read was a book that not only seemed to be written for women by a woman, but also showed the strength in numbers theory, which many of these characters needed, due to some the stories told within the book bringing me to tears time and time again, the worst being that of Charlene, whose construction worker son died by falling from a great height and being impaled on a spike, this story in itself was heartwrenching enough.
Coupled with all the other stories in the book (beautifully written, and formatted in a way as not to overpower, set out into chapters with their recipe for their chosen cookie to kick it off), this was a really emotional book to read, and though it didn't leave me feeling fuzzy, it did leave me feeling empowered, feeling that such adversities in life can be overcome, with a little help from friends.
There are some feel good stories too, i particularly liked the addition of Marnies daughters partners Mum in to the mix, a stronge black woman who wanted to show the virtues of her youngest son, and dispel any fears Marnie may have about her daughters partner, and also telling a background story of herself, again a woman who was in a very similar situation to Marnie, i did feel a real connection to these women when reading their stories.
If there was any bad point i could make about this book it could only be the gushing that came every chapter or so, i know these women are incredible, and many have overcome real problems in their lifes, but the book could have done without the written word of how wonderful these characters are, with the emotion of the book potraying this fact simply through the feelings the reader has themselves.
As you may have gathered i really loved this book, i loved the inclusion of the cookie recipes, which to some extent gave me an insite into each charcter, but also the inclusion of information on random baking goods, ie sugar and vanilla, though more to catch my breath from the last chapter!
The book is almost entirely set in the time span of the party, which could have been a little dull, but with plenty of different characters whose stories must be told, i found it interesting all the way through.
I thoroughly recommend this book!
Pricewise this has a RRP of £6.99, but can be purchased for less via www.amazon.co.uk
Thanks for reading x
==Christmas Cookie Club==
Described as 'the perfect recipe for friendship this Christmas', this book jumped out at me from the shelves last year. Most books I buy, I read once and then I have to pass them on to friends and family, or there would never be any room left in my home. Having enjoyed this book so much last year I kept it, and being Christmas soon, I simply had to read it again.
Sixteen years ago, Marnie set up the Christmas Cookie Club, the club is about giving, not just the cookies they bake, but also about giving love and support. They take turns to tell the story about why they chose that specific cookie recipe, and each story is somehow emblematic of the year that has passed.
The Christmas Cookie Club, written by Ann Pearlman, is unashamedly Chit Lit. Published last October, the book is currently available to purchase from Amazon for just £4.12 (brand new) or £4.99 on Kindle.
As there are twelve members, there are twelve stories to listen to, and quite often they are interlinked. It can and does, get a little confusing around the middle of the book; I kept flicking back to remind myself who was who. I also had to flick back to see how many characters stories were left, it wasn't that I was bored of the story or anything, it was a case of, is that six or seven, or might it be number eight?
The stories, although very dramatic individually, tended to blend together as one, simply because you really don't get chance to take it all in before the next character started to tell their tale. Occasionally there is a pause in the telling of the characters tales of woe, and this comes as a welcome break.
This book could be classed as twelve stories woven together to make one book, but it doesn't feel that way - It definitely feels like one book, with lots of stories within it. It's very eloquent and beautifully descriptive. It's quite emotive at times, be sure to keep your hankies close, you WILL need them.
This book has a traditional feel about it, of Christmas's past, where everyone gathers, and a festive spirit starts to grow. This is however, written with a modern setting in America, and as such, there are many American references within it; it doesn't detract from the plot though, as it can tend to do in some novels I've read. You get so absorbed with the tales, you don't really notice it.
The characters are well thought out, and you really feel for them. It seems they all have their troubles like everyone else, but although this book could feel quite depressing, it doesn't. It feels uplifting and cheery. You want to shout 'Merry Christmas' at the top of your voice, and it makes you really appreciate your friends and family, and the happiness and healthiness, you will hopefully enjoy this Christmas.
Interspersed within the stories are the recipes of the cookies they bake. I'd like to say that I've cooked some of them, but I haven't as yet. They do add a lovely touch to the book, and give it a homely feel. There are also sections dedicated to the ingredients, i.e. sugar, flour, nuts, and nutmeg; the history of them, and why they are beneficial to both us, and the recipe. Like I mentioned previously - these come as a nice pausing place to put the book down and ponder over what you have read. I can guarantee though, you'll soon be picking this book back up, it's addictive.
Although I love books, lately I've not been much of a reader, a couple of chapters before bed at most, but I really get engrossed with this book, so much so I read it over the course of a day. I'm going to award this book five stars, with the hope that you feel the same way when you read it. This book is staying in my collection forever.
Thanks for reading my review, which is also posted on Ciao.
I bought The Christmas Cookie Club as a present for my mother last Christmas. My mother had asked for a particular book and after a quick search on the internet I found the book on offer at Asda. At that time they were offering a few titles at 2 for £7 which seemed quite reasonable for something that would be a stocking filler. I chose The Christmas Cookie Club mainly because my Mother is in her 50's and a lot of the other books available were your standard chick lit thirty something sort of novels or more aimed at Men.
The Christmas Cookie Club is the story of Marnie and a selection of her closest friends who all meet at the beginning of December and exchange cookies. Marnie has known all the women in the group from various stages of her life and she is the only real link between the various women. The women range in age from their thirties into their sixties and each chapter concentrates on one woman's story and you find out how they met Marnie and a little bit about each woman's life and loves. There are rules within the group to limit the number of women that attend and absence from the meeting. At each meeting every women bakes cookies for all the other members of the group and also some that go to a local charity. I had never heard of a cookie club but this book is based in America so maybe it is something that is more popular there. The cookies are wrapped and presented and each woman shares her stories with the rest of the group. Marnie might not see her friends all the time but they all look forward to the cookie club and I felt that the club was just an excuse or just the reason they use to meet up every year without exception.
My mother read and enjoyed the book and passed it to me as I was out of books and couldn't get to the library. I wouldn't have chosen this book for myself and it isn't the sort of book I have read before but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read the book in a few days and looked forward to reading it each day. As the characters were introduced I found myself reading longer and longer to discover their stories and unravel the relationships between them.
The book is written by Ann Pearlman who is not an author I have heard of before. She has written another book titled Infidelity which were her memoirs and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Apparently the book has been optioned for a film which I don't think I would watch but may appeal to some people. I find that the films don't always live up to the book and can be disappointing. The Christmas Cookie Club is currently available (June 2011) on www.amazon.co.uk for £4.50.
If Ann Pearlman were to write another non-fiction book I would definitely be very tempted to read it as I really did enjoy this book.
When I was little, at the beginning of December our Christmas books would come down from the loft - everything from The Snowman to Mog's Christmas to Baboushka, which always made me teary. They would go in a basket to be flicked through repeatedly in the fun up to the big day and into the new year.
There aren't as many Christmas books for adults, but this is one, and it's beautiful.
Chocolate bonbons with an almond glaze. Peanut butter cookies double dipped in chocolate. Coffee and raisin hermit biscuits. Crisp vanilla fingers with toasted almonds. Thin crunchy crisps flavoured with molasses and ginger.
If you're even the slightest bit peckish after that, I guarantee you'll be starving by the time you finish this wonderful book full of festive flavour.
Every year at the beginning of December, Marnie opens her home to the Cookie Club, a group of friends, some old, some new, who might not see much of each other during the year but who meet like clockwork on this date. Oh, and they bring cookies with them. We're not just talking a plate of bog standard chocolate chip, either. Some of the women spend the good part of a year planning their next Cookie Club offering. They bring recipes passed down through generations, concoctions the club have clamoured for again and again, ones that help tell a story or explain the struggles each is facing at that time. They package them in frilly gift bags, neat boxes, bright shiny tins, crisp cellophane, adorn them with ribbons and bows and feathers and confetti, the presentation almost as important as the contents, and they pass them out one by one to the rest of the group. By the end of the night, each woman has eleven new packets of cookies to enjoy through the holidays, and their bond has been reinforced for another year.
If the cookies nourish their bodies, then the story telling that comes as part of the night nourishes their souls. The women share their news, their highs and lows, their plans for the future. Spanning two generations, the guests are at various stages in their lives, so we have people struggling to conceive, those dealing with divorce and adultery, others who have been widowed or are eagerly awaiting grandchildren. Cancer survivors mingle with those who have been dealing with redundancy and home foreclosure, while others have overcome abusive pasts to get to where they are today. This is not a book of sob stories, but simply reinforces the message that no matter how rosy their lives may appear on the outside, everyone is dealing with something they'd rather not be.
The book has a lovely structure, with each recipe featured in full at the start of the chapters, making it a guide in how to bake as much as a novel to lose yourself in. Each woman, and each cookie, gets a moment in the spotlight as we learn how Marnie met them all in the first place, how each of them know one and other, and the specific ties that bind - both feuds and friendships. Though there are a lot of characters to keep track of - a dozen women are active members of the club, but other people's stories get woven in too - the book moves seamlessly from one to the next.
The characters are the main focus of the book - it's about the who, not so much the where - but I must mention the setting, Ann Arbour in Michigan. This backdrop really completed the story for me, as the fleeting descriptions of the local main street and the businesses and neighbourhoods that made up the community brought the story to life. It comes across as a good old fashioned place to live the American dream, and fitted in perfectly with the lives of Marnie and her friends.
The book only spans one evening, but it feels like it lasts a lifetime. It is an absorbing, heart-warming read, with a dash of romance, a sprinkling of angst and a spoonful of hope. Just like the holidays in general, it's a time for reflection on the past and resolutions for the future. A simply delicious read, and a perfect one to curl up with on Christmas afternoon or Boxing Day.
An earlier version of this review first appeared on the Bookbag. Given the current postal difficulties your best bet might be to seek this out in a high street, not online, shop (assuming you're not snowed in, that is).
I love Christmas, and so I love things that are associated with it: books, music, movies and food. After enjoying recently released Christmas chick-lit book 'Twelve Days of Christmas', I decided to try another Christmassy book from the same genre. Today I will be reviewing a book called 'The Christmas Cookie Club'.
The Christmas Cookie Club is a book by Ann Pearlman (an author I had not heard of before) and comes under the chick-lit genre. The book is very recent having been released in October 2010. The book is currently available to buy from Amazon for a price of just £3.98 which I think is excellent value especially considering the fact that the book is brand new and its recommend retail price if £6.99.
In this book : Every first Monday in December, Marnie and her twelve friends meet up and bring along wine and Christmas cookies they have made. This event allows the woman to catch up on all that has happened during the past year. What secrets will they have this year? Read The Christmas Cookie Club to find out!
I really enjoyed this read! I thought that the plot was really interesting and I liked how it was based on the tradition of having get together at Christmas time, yet was set in modern times. I love the idea of old fashioned Christmases when people cooked their mince pies and shared them with family and friends and making their own decorations rather than spending the whole of the festive season racing around the shops looking for last minute gifts. So, I loved this book for its old fashioned Christmassy feel.
I liked the character Marnie, and thought that she was well-put-together kind of character, although there were so many characters, as the book was about thirteen characters, plus the people they were in touch with, such as husbands and children who were also in the story and so at times it was confusing trying to keep up with who was who, and so you had to make sure you were concentrating at all times. I did enjoy this book though, and this certainly didn't put me off it. It was just the fact that I kept thinking 'who was that again?'!
One thing which I did like about having so many characters however was the fact that each chapter was devoted to a different person which I thought was quite different. Although on the negative side, you didn't get to know each character very well and so you don't get attached to the characters in the book as much as you would if there were just a couple of main characters.
This book is American and so there are slight differences in the words used such as 'cups' instead of ounces. I found the fact that it was an American book to be interesting as I found it really interesting seeing how groups of friends celebrate Christmas in America.
If you like Christmas cooking then you will be pleased to know that there are some recipes scattered throughout the book, which I thought was a lovely idea. I particularly love cooking at Christmas, and although I haven't used any of the recipes yet, I am looking forward to soon.
I would love if this book would be turned into a movie!
Thanks for reading!
December 7th 2010
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted on ciao under xdonzx)