Christmas cookie bakers share more than recipes in psychotherapist Pearlman’s debut.
This version of the women’s club as group confessional à la The Jane Austen Book Club (movie rights have been optioned) is a Christmas Cookie exchange. At her Ann Arbor home, “Head Cookie Bitch” Marnie hosts the CCC’s annual party, guest list strictly limited to 12. Each woman “presents” her particular homemade confection. Unsurprisingly, the cookies represent life changes. Marnie herself anxiously awaits news of a recent ultrasound for daughter Sky, who has had two miscarriages and a stillborn baby. Younger daughter Tara is pregnant by fellow rapper Aaron. Marnie’s objections to Aaron are not so much that he’s African-American—she’s invited Aaron’s mother Sissy to break the color barrier of the all-white CCC—but that he served a term in juvenile prison. Marnie, pushing 60, is also unsure about her younger lover Jim, a single parent whose dedication to his boys and his job causes him repeatedly to break dates. Each member has similar woes except Allie, a sanguine, seen-it-all psychotherapist, also 60ish, whose lover is even younger than Jim. But why has Taylor, who has never exhibited lesbian tendencies, been making moon-eyes at Allie all night? Out come the secret hurts: Charlene’s ironworker son died of a gruesome worksite injury; everyone’s favorite colorist Laurie is moving south for better job opportunities, etc. The most engaging conflict, which might have elevated the dramatic tension if given center stage, involves two feuding members, Rosie and Jeannie, who have fallen out over mutual best friend’s affair with Jeannie’s father (Rosie knew and didn’t tell). Some genuinely informative vignettes about baking ingredients don’t entirely compensate for girlfriend bonding, and prose, that frequently verge on mawkish.
When post-menopausal women tipsy on wine dance to Al Green, can red hats be far away?