Delicious!

Delicious!

In her bestselling memoirs Ruth Reichl has long illuminated the theme of how food defines us, and never more so than in her dazzling fiction debut about sisters, family ties, and a young woman who must finally let go of guilt and grief to embrace her own true gifts.Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food mag...

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Title:Delicious!
Author:Ruth Reichl
Rating:
ISBN:1400069629
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:400 pages

Delicious! Reviews

  • Jenne
    Nov 13, 2013

    oookaaaayyy, well let me just start out by saying that I love Ruth Reichl.

    is one of my favorite books ever. Genius. Lovely. Gorgeous.

    However. This novel. I mean, it's definitely a "write what you know" kind of thing, about a woman who works for a venerable food magazine that suddenly ceases publication. Fine. Gotta start somewhere.

    But it's just...okay, so the main character is a genius food person with a miraculous palate! but she doesn't cook! because of her Tragic Past!

    oookaaaayyy, well let me just start out by saying that I love Ruth Reichl.

    is one of my favorite books ever. Genius. Lovely. Gorgeous.

    However. This novel. I mean, it's definitely a "write what you know" kind of thing, about a woman who works for a venerable food magazine that suddenly ceases publication. Fine. Gotta start somewhere.

    But it's just...okay, so the main character is a genius food person with a miraculous palate! but she doesn't cook! because of her Tragic Past! and she thinks she is USELESS but everyone she meets loves her! and gives her free chocolate and cheese and bakes her souffles and whatnot. OH and there's a gruff but kind boss, and a different gruff but kind boss, and a fabulous older gay man who mentors her and gives her a makeover (of the kind which is like, just take off those glasses and get a haircut and stop wearing those baggy clothes which are covering up your perfect figure which you have despite all the free chocolate BUT I DIGRESS) Anyway there's also a SECRET LIBRARY and a MYSTERIOUS PUZZLE and a HEARTWARMING WWII STORY and a HOT ARCHITECT and an UNDERGROUND RAILROAD THING and not one but TWO colorful Italian families. and a line of dialogue about rose petals that was so incredibly hokey that I laughed extremely hard in the break room at work and had to try to explain to my coworkers about how the people had sex for the first time in a SECRET LIBRARY. Oh and also she is secretly a FASHION GENIUS too! Because being only one kind of genius is just not enough.

    On the other hand, it was a pretty fun and fast read, and if you're looking for a souffle-type novel, you could do worse! Plus, so many AWESOME OLD LADIES, which are my favorite.

  • Kwoomac
    Mar 03, 2014

    First reads. I won, I won, I won! I haven't won anything in like 4 years!

    So, full disclosure. I received this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the first novel by food critic Ruth Reichl. It's a fun story of a young woman who makes her way to NYC to work for a food magazine (and to run away from her painful past). Her new life is filled with adventures. I got a kick out of the happily-ever-after tone. Anything that could go right did. Just a lot of fu

    First reads. I won, I won, I won! I haven't won anything in like 4 years!

    So, full disclosure. I received this book through Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an unbiased review. This is the first novel by food critic Ruth Reichl. It's a fun story of a young woman who makes her way to NYC to work for a food magazine (and to run away from her painful past). Her new life is filled with adventures. I got a kick out of the happily-ever-after tone. Anything that could go right did. Just a lot of fun. If you're in the mood for a light story with lots of foodie stuff in it, I recommend this one. Definitely would be a great beach read.

  • Jacqie
    Mar 04, 2014

    I've loved all the non-fiction that Ruth Reichl has written and thought her first novel would be a treat. Sadly, it seems that very different skills are needed in writing fiction vs. non-fiction.

    Our main character is a cipher. We get hints about a tragic past, but because we can't know what happened, we can't really know the character. Plus, she's young, has curly blonde hair and violet eyes, and the most amazing palate ever. Whoever meets her fall in love with her and wants to be her friend, an

    I've loved all the non-fiction that Ruth Reichl has written and thought her first novel would be a treat. Sadly, it seems that very different skills are needed in writing fiction vs. non-fiction.

    Our main character is a cipher. We get hints about a tragic past, but because we can't know what happened, we can't really know the character. Plus, she's young, has curly blonde hair and violet eyes, and the most amazing palate ever. Whoever meets her fall in love with her and wants to be her friend, and gives her privileges no one else has ever had. Plus, she and her sister started a bakery when they were children and it was ultra, ultra-successful. It was all a bit much.

    And strangely, the writing felt very stilted. I stopped before we got into the WWII/James Beard letters, but I'm afraid those might fall into the twee trap of the rest of the book.

    AND A SPOILER,BECAUSE I JUST HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING*****

    The tragic secret? She can't bake anymore because her sister died delivering a cake and she feels that she should have been the one delivering it. Here is the passage:

    ...we all turned to watch her cross the driveway, her eyes focused on the two little figures on the cake cradled in her arms. She never saw the Jaguar come barreling around the curve. I doubt she heard the squeal as Beverly's brother slammed on the brakes and rubber shimmied over tar. Then Genie was up in the air, the cake above her, pinned against the sky. And then they were both falling, the motion so slow it seemed she would never reach the ground.

    So that's what happened. The only cake delivery hit and run in history.

  • J
    Apr 10, 2014

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

    Ruth Reichl is a well known author, so I had high hopes for this, her first novel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

    A young woman drops out of college and moves to New York, where she gets a job as an assistant to the editor of

    , a highly regarded food magazine, not unlike

    , the now defunct magazine at which Ms. Reichl was editor. The protagonist, Wilhemina "Billie" Breslin, has a unique gift. One taste of anything and she kno

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

    Ruth Reichl is a well known author, so I had high hopes for this, her first novel. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

    A young woman drops out of college and moves to New York, where she gets a job as an assistant to the editor of

    , a highly regarded food magazine, not unlike

    , the now defunct magazine at which Ms. Reichl was editor. The protagonist, Wilhemina "Billie" Breslin, has a unique gift. One taste of anything and she knows what ingredients are in it and is capable of recreating them exactly. Despite this, Billie is adamant that she doesn't want to cook, even though we know from the outset that she used to.

    The plot is more than a bit reminiscent of

    , right down to the gay older male co-worker who helps remake the "couldn't care less about my appearance" Billie. It's understandable that Ms. Reichl, the ultimate "foodie," would include descriptions of food in the novel, but sometimes her need to do this reaches levels where I'm not quite sure it isn't intended to be a parody. When the characters are eating food and describing it, this makes sense. In other contexts, it becomes annoying.

    This writing style carries over into overly detailed descriptions of clothing and accessories and sometimes even people's physical appearances.

    (In my opinion,not only is the prose cloying, the sentence makes no sense.)

    and

    Again, there was so much of this sort of thing that at times I wondered if it was tongue-in-cheek.

    The book is partially redeemed when Billie discovers a cache of letters in the magazine's library. The letters were written during the Second World War to James Beard, the famous chef, by a 13 year old girl. The letters are interesting and free from the overripe prose which characterizes the rest of the novel.

    There is, of course, a romance, though not a particularly believable one. The subplot which grows out of Billie's discovery of the letters is much more interesting than the romance.

    I rate it 3 stars. It just wasn't my cup of perfectly brewed Earl Grey tea made with not quite boiling water, allowed to steep for precisely 3 minutes and 19 seconds and served in a cup of Minton china in a Spring Flowers pattern, which was discontinued in 1959.

  • Julie
    Apr 30, 2014

    Ruth Reichl had so much fun writing this novel. I don't know this for a fact, but I sense it in every page. This sweet confection is full of joy. There is not a mean bone in this book's body. There aren't many bones at all, really. You definitely don't need a knife and fork to eat this one, but a large napkin to catch all the drips would be good.

    Inspired perhaps by Reichl's days at the venerable food magazine

    before it was summarily shuttered by the publisher,

    is a celebratio

    Ruth Reichl had so much fun writing this novel. I don't know this for a fact, but I sense it in every page. This sweet confection is full of joy. There is not a mean bone in this book's body. There aren't many bones at all, really. You definitely don't need a knife and fork to eat this one, but a large napkin to catch all the drips would be good.

    Inspired perhaps by Reichl's days at the venerable food magazine

    before it was summarily shuttered by the publisher,

    is a celebration of New York's food culture and the magic of cooking. A tender-hearted, cozy mystery surrounding correspondence between an Akron, OH pre-teen and the inimitable James Beard during World War II is woven through the modern-day romp through New York City. New York is bathed in a cinematic afterglow - think

    , as opposed to

    .

    is a little

    saccharine for my tastes. The wide-eyed, oatmeal-sweater-wearing, awkward and introverted protagonist, Billie, is 22 going on 14. Her puppy-dog immaturity charms the heck out of those jaded New Yorkers and of course she has a

    ugly-duckling-to-swan transformation that you see coming from page one. Billie has a secret sorrow but

    is it awful that I actually guffawed at the image of her sister flying into the air with a tray of cupcakes? I was laughing before I realized that maybe it wasn't supposed to be funny. But a wise and rumpled older man sets Billie straight about her guilt and grief and serves her pancakes in the bathtub. Mmm ....

    It's a darling and lovable tale that asks the reader to check all disbelief at the coatroom, pull up a comfy chair, and dig in, ignoring the world for a few hours.

  • Chris
    May 09, 2014

    Most anyone who knows me, knows that Ruth Reichl is at the top of my favorite food writer list. So when I was given the opportunity to receive an advanced readers copy of her newest book and first work of fiction, Delicious!, I jumped at the chance! (A big thank you to Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman!)

    Delicious! is custom-written for people like me, someone who loves food and loves to read about it. Delicious! is a longtime food magazine in the vein of Gourmet, and we meet our protaganist, Bill

    Most anyone who knows me, knows that Ruth Reichl is at the top of my favorite food writer list. So when I was given the opportunity to receive an advanced readers copy of her newest book and first work of fiction, Delicious!, I jumped at the chance! (A big thank you to Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman!)

    Delicious! is custom-written for people like me, someone who loves food and loves to read about it. Delicious! is a longtime food magazine in the vein of Gourmet, and we meet our protaganist, Billie Breslin, just as she is hired as the assistant to the editor. When the magazine suddenly seizes publication, Billie is kept on to answer the Delicious! guarantee to readers; if readers have a problem with a recipe, the magazine will return their money for the ingredients. It’s here that Billie enters the magazine’s library, where she comes upon letters written by a young girl from Akron named Lulu to James Beard during World War II.

    This book has it all, food, food, and more food, a touch of mystery, intrigue, and romance, plus Reichl’s classic descriptions of food, clothing, architecture. I know I love a book when it is hard to put down and even harder to do anything else but read! I let a lot of things go; Lulu’s letters didn’t sound like they were written by a 12-year-old, the requisite ugly duckling turning into a swan, and just enjoyed the ride. And I love that there was a nod to Bonnie Slotnick of Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, a bookstore in New York City that is only cookbooks. And I have a feeling I'm going to be making a soufflé and a pan of gingerbread very soon!

  • Kelly Syms
    May 11, 2014

    Place this one firmly in the "beach read" category. The prose is juvenile, especially for such an esteemed non-fiction writer. I love Ruth Reichl's food writing, and adored her editorial tenure at Gourmet, but her first novel is badly in need of an honest editor. You'll find unrealistic, shallow dialogue, cliched themes and flat characters on the page.

    There are brief moments of pleasure, mainly concerning glorious descriptions of meals and artisanal food. Some reviewers feel that these moments

    Place this one firmly in the "beach read" category. The prose is juvenile, especially for such an esteemed non-fiction writer. I love Ruth Reichl's food writing, and adored her editorial tenure at Gourmet, but her first novel is badly in need of an honest editor. You'll find unrealistic, shallow dialogue, cliched themes and flat characters on the page.

    There are brief moments of pleasure, mainly concerning glorious descriptions of meals and artisanal food. Some reviewers feel that these moments are unwarranted adjective explosions, but I can't help but feel that they are one of the sole redeeming qualities of a very rough first novel.

    I believe our author had only the best intentions in displaying a soul-searching character arc with Billie Breslin, but I found myself feeling like she was simply oblivious and rather pathetic. Her golden palate was rarely put to use in anything but the most obvious of instances, and to little effect on the page. I wanted to find something to like about her, but was left bereft.

    The second point of redemption through out the novel was the correspondence between Lulu and James Beard. Although light, it was gently heartwarming and an interesting look into the WWII era United States.

    I also must mention the positively ludicrous character of Sammy. I was desperate to love him as Billie's worldly, verbose and slightly flamboyant mentor. Instead, I was met with a wall of jumbled prose that was so unbelievably overwrought I could feel the author struggling to string the dialogue together with a dictionary and thesaurus beside her. It was unfortunately laughable and a huge turn off. I found myself rolling my eyes every time Sammy opened his mouth.

    If Ruth Reichl's talent as a non-fiction writer is any indication of her potential as a novelist, I do hope she continues to make forays into fiction, with the proviso that she finds a few brutally honest friends in the publishing world to guide her.

    1.5 stars, recommended only if you love food writing and are invested in the works of the author.

  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    Jun 13, 2014

    Recipes, libraries, letters, books, food, authentic Italian butcher and cheese shops, aromas you can smell through the pages, and marvelous characters. What more can a reader ask for?

    DELICIOUS is a reader's and a cook's paradise. DELICIOUS is one wonderful page of words after another.

    The magic never stopped as Ms. Reichl introduced the reader to her believable, lovable characters and to mouthwatering food. Billie and every single character will steal your heart. The characters just had somethin

    Recipes, libraries, letters, books, food, authentic Italian butcher and cheese shops, aromas you can smell through the pages, and marvelous characters. What more can a reader ask for?

    DELICIOUS is a reader's and a cook's paradise. DELICIOUS is one wonderful page of words after another.

    The magic never stopped as Ms. Reichl introduced the reader to her believable, lovable characters and to mouthwatering food. Billie and every single character will steal your heart. The characters just had something that pulled you in.

    When Billie finds letters in the library of a now defunct magazine company that were sent to a famous chef, Mr. Beard, from 13-year old Lulu during WWII, the book continues with the same mood of enjoying life, enjoying food, and discovering oneself. If you love old buildings from the 1800's, you will be in for another surprise.

    These letters became the basis of DELICIOUS and also created a mystery about who Lulu was. The letters were used by a librarian as a fun game of finding clues that were very cleverly hidden and ones that led to the next clue...was the game ever over? If Lulu were still alive, Billie knew what a wonderful treat it would be to meet her.

    If you want to be entertained and have your taste buds taken to the highest level, be sure to read DELICIOUS. You will also have the pleasure of learning how to face hidden fears in your life and share your life with those you should share it with.

    DELICIOUS is unlike any book I have read. It grabs hold of you and takes you along for a "delicious" adventure and a very pleasurable reading ride.

    My rating of DELICIOUS is a taste tempting, entertaining, and loving 5/5.

    Don't miss reading DELICIOUS. It is a beautiful, delightful book.​

    I received this book free of charge and without compensation from the publisher in return for an honest review.

  • K
    Jul 01, 2014

    Sorry guys -- yet another curmudgeonly review. I just couldn't stay interested in this story. Ruth Reichl is a seasoned writer, but definitely not a novelist.

    Somewhere on the TV tropes website where it lists all the various subcategories of Mary Sues, there's probably a name for that wish fulfillment main character who's awkward and self-doubting but instantly loved by all who meet her (despite the absence of any notable personality), and needs only to take off her glasses and change her hairsty

    Sorry guys -- yet another curmudgeonly review. I just couldn't stay interested in this story. Ruth Reichl is a seasoned writer, but definitely not a novelist.

    Somewhere on the TV tropes website where it lists all the various subcategories of Mary Sues, there's probably a name for that wish fulfillment main character who's awkward and self-doubting but instantly loved by all who meet her (despite the absence of any notable personality), and needs only to take off her glasses and change her hairstyle/wardrobe to go from ugly duckling to beautiful swan. That was this main character, Billie (a.k.a. Wilhemina) Breslin.

    As if we weren't already solidly in the land of cliches, Billie has a Unique Gift as well as a Secret Trauma which challenges her ability to use this gift. The Unique Gift is a palate which allows her to correctly identify all kinds of obscure ingredients as well as advise cooks on how to make their foods even more perfect. But because of the Secret Trauma, Billie simply can't bring herself to cook.

    We first learn this when Billie, having dropped out of school, applies for a job at a gourmet magazine. Um, interesting choice for someone who's thrown into trepidation at the thought of cooking. Billie is desperate for the job and just dying to write, but panics when asked to cook as part of her interview process. Well, naturally Billie's creation just wows the entire jaded magazine staff despite her panic. Still, we're reminded repeatedly that Billie is afraid to cook and continually refusing to tell any of her earnestly supportive friends the reason for this. I stopped feeling any kind of tension about the secret pretty early on and chose to read some spoiler-containing goodreads reviews to see what the heck this was already, and let me tell you, I would have had to strain my already suspended disbelief to the breaking point to buy this traumatic experience as one that would result in fear of doing any and all cooking.

    Other issues: the magazine Billie works at has a guarantee that if one of their recipes doesn't come out well when followed as directed, they'll refund you the cost of your ingredients. Part of Billie's job is to field calls from these disgruntled cooks, who invariably have failed to follow the recipe's directions in some glaringly obvious way. These callers tend to be old ladies who are clearly meant to charm the reader with their cuteness; I just kept rolling my eyes. And finally, although I love to cook and do have a certain amount of food geekiness to me, it seems I don't actually care that much about food. Certainly not nearly as much as Ruth Reichl does, or her characters. The food raptures, well-written though they were, quickly got boring.

    It's pretty clear that romance is in store for Billie (how could it not be? Is there a cliche we've left out?), but I decided to just give up. You know it's bad when you're driving to work and would rather jump around among mediocre radio half-songs than keep listening to your book.

  • Carol
    Jul 27, 2014

    The question in my mind was "Could Ruth Reichl, food editor, restaurant critic and memoir writer pull off a cozy novel?" You bet she can and it was, well, delicious.

    Like Reichl, Billie Breslin transplants herself from the streets of California to the bustle of New York where she is hired as assistant editor for a Gourmet lookalike magazine named Delicious. Billie California bags are packed with a sadness of spirit not fully explained initially. Part One finds Billie settling in as she goes abou

    The question in my mind was "Could Ruth Reichl, food editor, restaurant critic and memoir writer pull off a cozy novel?" You bet she can and it was, well, delicious.

    Like Reichl, Billie Breslin transplants herself from the streets of California to the bustle of New York where she is hired as assistant editor for a Gourmet lookalike magazine named Delicious. Billie California bags are packed with a sadness of spirit not fully explained initially. Part One finds Billie settling in as she goes about the day to day business of her job, making many new friends and coming into her own. I was enjoying this storyline and could have stayed here when wham, Delicious closes, not unlike Rechl's own experience at Gourmet. Though her friends at the magazine must move on, Billie is asked to stay and continue to man the Delicious Guarantee hotline, taking complaints about recipe disasters and providing their money back guarantee. The story goes in a new direction. With time on her hands in the now empty Timbers Mansion Billie discovers not only a secret room but a treasure trove of correspondence dating back to the forties between James Beard and a spunky teen trying to survive the realities of a country at war and rationing.

    Reading

    is like a food tour of New York, and we are privy to its delicacies. If any book I've read this year can be called feel good

    is it. Take a dash of mystery, a sprinkling of romance, a pinch of history, throw in a handful of good recipes, a hint of name dropping, mix them all together, taste. and serve a perfectly enjoyable read with just a touch of memoir thrown in for good measure.

    Yes, I'm going to try the gingerbread but forget the soufflé. Call that a fear of falling.