17 December 2009

Book Review: The ChristmasCookie Club by Ann Pearlman

Every year, Marnie and her 12 friends meet for the annual meeting of The Cookie Club which happens on the first Monday of December every year without fail. The friends have been there for each other through a lot of ups and downs, and that's not about the change any time soon.

During the meeting, lots of secrets are revealed that shock the friends to the core. Marnie is waiting to hear from her pregnant daughter Sky about whether the baby is viable, Charlene is still struggling to get over the death of her son Luke, Tracey is hiding a huge secret from all but a few of her friends, Jeannie and Ruth are still enemies over the discovery of another friend's betrayal that has torn their friendship apart, and Rosie has to decide which is more important - her marriage or her need for children.

Together the friends help each other get through their problems, and show each other how important it is to have friends who are there for you no matter what. Their lives are all woven together as they await anxiously for news of Marnie's grandchild and pass around the cookies for another year, but what secrets are going to be revealed once and for all?

Although this is author Ann Pearlman's debut fictional novel, Ann has actually written a personal memoir which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize called Infidelity. Ann has now turned her hand to writing fiction, and this book was released in America under the title of The Christmas Cookie Club. Presumably, the publishers have had to change it because they couldn't get it out as a pre-Christmas release, but due to the nature of the plot it makes it a good read all year round, even if the action does take place in December in the book.

The book begins with the  introduction of our narrator Marnie, and we get to know a little bit about her and the idea of the Cookie Club. I found the character of Marnie extremely easy to get to know, and I liked her first person narration as well. She is a likeable story teller, and her easy-to-read narrative allows the reader to warm to her and therefore want to read more about her and her friends. Marnie's main story throughout the book is the wait for a phonecall from her daughter who is going to find out if her pregnancy is viable, but also the pregnancy of her younger daughter too. These are very emotive storylines, but Pearlman deals with them in a soft way and keeps it light and makes the reader want to know desperately.

There are quite a lot of other characters in the book so I shan't bore you by discussing them all here! Some of my favourites included Charlene, who is Marnie's best friend in the group. I found her story extremely tragic, and Pearlman has tapped into a mother's grief perfectly, you are almost aching for Charlene because of her pain and I have to give credit for this to the author because she has written these tough scenes so incredibly well, and deals with a raw topic with dignity and compassion. I also liked the rivalry between Jeannie and Rosie, which is kept hidden from us for a while. It's not what I expected which was great, and I think the progression of this part of the book was very good and I enjoyed it very much.

What I liked about this book was its ability to weave both the present and the past of the characters seamlessly into one book, yet keep both extremely fresh and interseting to the reader. The present part of the book takes place over just the one night of the Cookie Club meeting, yet the past goes back years, and is written alongside the present story, as a flashback almost to give a sense of background to the character who is the subject of that character. I liked this very much, and found it both an easy way to find out more about the characters, but also it kept me totally engaged and I was fascinated by the writing style. It wasn't at all complicated despite the many characters, and it was a great way of handling as many characters as are involved.

At the beginning of each chapter, there is a recipe for the cookie that character is bringing to the club, and I'm very tempted to try some of these myself! Pearlman has really done her research because both recipe and method are included, making this almost a mini cookbook too! Also, there is information on a key ingredient at the end of each chapter, written by Marnie but weaving fact into a fictional story. It's fascinating how she has combined fiction with real recipes and facts, and it just brings another dimension into an already brilliant story. I can't recommend this book enough, it's got everything you'd want from great chick-lit: great characters that you care about, interesting stories that keep you guessing until the end and a huge readability factor. It's wonderfully written and a joy to read, any time of year! Highly recommended!

Rating: 5/5


  1. I completely agree. I just finished this book and reviewed it on my blog. Each character is so real and the writing is just wonderful. This is a really fantastic read.

  2. i really want to read this book! sounds great

  3. This sounds like an interesting read :) thanks

  4. I've just bought this book and I am looking forward to reading it