A Novel

Reichl, Ruth

Book - 2014
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Working as a public relations hotline consultant for a once-prestigious culinary magazine, Billie Breslin unexpectedly enters a world of New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors while reading World War II letters exchanged between a plucky 12-year-old and James Beard.

Publisher: New York :, Random House,, [2014]
Edition: First Edition.
ISBN: 0812997034
Characteristics: 380 pages ;,25 cm


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Jan 15, 2015

This 'foodie' novel exceeded my expectations. It was an enjoyable read. However I found it unrealistic in that Billie would never visit her father (as an only child now) despite the fact that he was a good and generous father. I also found it unrealistic that Delicious would keep her on for several months after closing, in this capitalistic era of 'profits first'. However this is fiction.

Jan 04, 2015
  • cardigramma rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Ms. Reichl's first novel is outstanding. I have read her non-fiction books and this is even better.

Jan 04, 2015
  • wmtlady rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An experienced writer in the cooking field, Ruth Reichl has now demonstrated that she has a natural talent for fiction novels, as well. Not only did I become captivated by the characters and the plot, but the story flowed with a smooth clarity to a realistic, pleasing and unsentimental finish. Entertaining and enlightening at the same time. A treat for lovers of the "historical novel" that is set in the present.

Nov 09, 2014
  • JEJohnson9136 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent. Bits of romance, history, mystery. Enjoyed the details of Akron and Cleveland (Wade Park Manor, West Side Market, Arcade, Cleveland Library etc.). Enjoyed the items pertaining to cooking, restaurants, delis, food, etc. Unique story.

Oct 20, 2014
  • Ijustcantstandthis rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I have read Ruth Reichl's three excellent memoirs and I think that her novel is right up there with them. What's not to like about this debut novel? It features mouth-watering descriptions of food, an engrossing plot line and interesting characters. The main character is a young woman named Billie Breslin who comes to New York CIty from the West Coast to work as a writer. Thanks to her outstanding palate and ability to cook, she lands a job as the assistant to the editor of a food magazine called Delicious! Billie also finds a part-time job working at the counter of a family-owned cheese and wine shop, which helps to alleviate her loneliness during the weekends. One of the regular customers, dubbed "Mr. Complainer" by Sal, the shop owner, seems to take an interest in Billie. But Billie, who grew up in the shadow of her older, more popular sister, doesn't think of herself as anyone special. The novel takes an unexpected turn when the owner of the magazine decides to shut it down. Billie stays on at the empty mansion to handle complaints from readers about failed recipes. While looking a recipe in a back issue, Billie happens to find some letters written by a 13-year-old girl named Lulu to James Beard during the Second World War. Sammy, the travel writer who lost his job, joins her and they work to unearth the rest of the letters, which have long been forgotten after they were filed away by a quirky former librarian at the magazine. As time goes on, Billie wonders if Lulu might still be alive and if so, how she can locate her. The novel has a connection to Northeast Ohio, because Lulu was living in Akron during the war. The book also mentions the West Side Market, which I am ashamed to say I have never visited. If I have one criticism of this novel, it's that the plot was somewhat predictable. I was able to guess part of the storyline regarding Billie's sister Genie. Bon appetit!

Sep 11, 2014
  • writermala rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What a 'delicious' novel! Food, love, history, architecture, mystery; this book had something for everybody. I loved the recipes but it was the characters in the book who spoke to me. All along I was rooting for Billie and wanted a Cinderella event in her life. Voila! The author gave it to me and I was delighted. The story of a food magazine, how Billie continues working there after it has shut down, her finding interesting letters and her quest to find the writer, all make for exciting reading. I loved it!

Sep 04, 2014
  • jazpur rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

All the ingredients are there but...Delicious doesn't quite make it.Too many flavours.

Aug 12, 2014
  • MaxineML rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reichl is a wonderful writer, and her memoirs and other non-fiction writing is a must for any foodie's bookshelf, but Delicious! ends up being too syrupy sweet to be a good book.

Our story is set in first person, with Billie (Wilhelmina) Breslin our main character and narrator. Unfortunately for the reader Billie is young, immature, and prone to melodramatic statements. She is whiny, self-pitying and apprehensive about life.

All of the secondary characters come from the back drawers of stock-characters, from the gay friend, the love interest, the old-man who dispenses advice, the friendly Italian cheesemonger, to the plucky heroine of the hidden letters Billie finds in the deserted Timbers Mansion.

The overall plot of the novel is farfetched, but sweet and endearing - with a better writer this could have been a wonderful novel about second chances, learning from the past, growing up, learning to trust yourself and others, and becoming who you are meant to be. The scenes of food are the best of the bunch - reading about the cheeses in Frontanari's store, the gingerbread cake Billie makes, the meals they have at the Pig - these are the descriptions where Reichl shines. Yet, she can't manage to make the emotionality of her characters anything other than flat.

Read Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything to read about food as it should be written. Or, read Ruth Reichl's memoirs for a great glimpse into her life.

Aug 06, 2014
  • booklady413 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Ruth Reichl does a great job at her first attempt to write fiction. I loved it!

Jul 31, 2014
  • Jane60201 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I loved this book! I don't usually like fiction by women but this one had lots of good plot lines and intrigue.

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Jul 18, 2014
  • readsalot80 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Billie works for "Delicious" magazine. The magazine guarantees all recipes published and Billie helps those with problems. Billie has a perfect palate, but doesn't cook because of a tragedy in her past. You quickly guess part of the problem, but the author doesn't reveal the complete story until near the end. Billie finds a secret room in the magazine's library. She finds letters written to James Beard during World War II, from Lulu a young girl, who is learning to cook. She meets many interesting people including a man she met at the deli. The ending resolves all issues complete with love and finding Lulu.


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