BookloverCook Reviews: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

I’ve been cooking and reading a lot lately, but the reading has been better. Thus, I bring you my second review in a row. In all seriousness though, I am really excited to tell you about this book because I just had so much fun reading it.

Delicious! is food world star Ruth Reichl’s highly anticipated first novel, and it was published this week. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy, which is why I’m able to tell you about the 375-page tome so hot on the heels of its publication.

It is the coming of age story of Billie Breslin, a shy and insecure 20-something who we meet just as she has dropped out of college to take an assistant job at a high profile food magazine in New York called Delicious! But not long after she starts this dream job, Delicious! is abruptly shuttered and Billie’s world is turned upside down – again. Out of this event comes a wonderful discovery, however, involving a secret room in the Delicious! library, a mysterious riddle created by a spirited former librarian (!!), and a cache of letters written to the magazine’s most famous employee, James Beard. What ensues opens Billie’s eyes to history, the world and people around her, and most importantly, to herself.

Delicious! cover

If I had to choose one word to describe this book, (which I realize no one is making me do, but just hypothetically) it would be Indulgence. The opening chapters are pure wish fulfillment, as we are swept, along with Billie, into a fantasy job (for any food-lover at least) at a food magazine and a gustatory tour of New York that is a sensory explosion. And the story itself just makes you feel good, like slipping into a warm bath with a glass of wine and a square of dark chocolate after a long day.

If you read for dazzling, literary language, I will caution that there are some clichés and foibles that will give you pause here and there. If, however, you read for a compelling story that keeps up a good clip, for characters who feel like your best friends by the end, for pure enjoyment, then you will eat it up. (Sorry, I just can’t help myself!)

I can see this book appealing to a broad set of readers. If you love food writing you will be enthralled by the first few chapters, and by the time the food writing slows down and the story picks up, you will be too absorbed to notice. Reichl fans that read and enjoyed her memoirs will not be disappointed with her fiction debut. In fact this book made me want to go back and read everything she’s ever written. I predict that fans of genres such as Chick Lit or Women’s Fiction (both terms I hate, but how else to say it?) will like it, and even Romance readers might like it, though it doesn’t necessarily adhere to that form.

As I mentioned in the beginning Delicious! is long, nearly 400 pages. If you can believe it though, one of my criticisms of it is actually that some of the storylines are tied up too quickly at the end. I spent so long reading about them that I was disappointed to have them dispensed with in so few pages. Plus, once I got into the story I truly did not want it to end and I relished every one of its 375 pages.

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