A Novel

eBook - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Ruth Reichl is a born storyteller. Through her restaurant reviews, where she celebrated the pleasures of a well-made meal, and her bestselling memoirs that address our universal feelings of love and loss, Reichl has achieved a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, with this magical debut novel, she has created a sumptuous, wholly realized world that will enchant you. Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills. To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love. Praise for Delicious! “Its title strikes me as perfectly apt. . . . The novel presents a whole passel of surprises: a puzzle to solve; a secret room; hidden letters; the legacy of James Beard; and a parallel, equally plucky heroine from the past, who also happens to be a culinary prodigy.”—The New York Times Book Review “Drawing amply on her years as editor of Gourmet, Ruth Reichl’s fiction debut, Delicious!, follows a perfect-palated aspiring young journalist to her new job at an iconic New York food magazine, where she uncovers a mysterious trove of James Beard’s wartime correspondence—and learns how intimately food and legacy are intertwined.”—Vogue “Reichl’s compulsively readable novel is a treat for anyone who loves a warm, character-packed tale—a delectable mix of flavor, fantasy, and emotional comfort food.”—O: The Oprah Magazine “This savory feast of a first novel blends the rich gifts that readers of Reichl’s memoirs and food writing have come to expect. To a tantalizing coming-of-age story about a budding chef and journalist she adds a bittersweet tale of separated sisters.”—More “Reichl’s vivid descriptions of food will have readers salivating, and an insider’s look at life at a food magazine is fascinating. Her satisfying coming-of-age novel of love and loss vividly demonstrates the power of food to connect people across cultures and generations.”—Library Journal (starred review) From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: [S.l.]: Random House Publishing Group, 2014
ISBN: 9780679604617
Branch Call Number: 3M CLOUD LIBRARY
Characteristics: 416 p
Additional Contributors: CLOUDLIBRARY

Related Resources


From Library Staff

AL_ANNAL Sep 16, 2017

A cozy read with nice culinary and architectural details.

When the renowned foodie magazine, Delicious, is summarily shut down, Billie Breslin becomes the sole employee. Surprisingly, this boring, lonely job becomes the portal to a life-changing discovery.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

AL_ANNAL Sep 16, 2017

A cozy read with nice culinary and architectural details.

Jun 18, 2017

The most food-centric book I've every read and the story continued to unfold in unexpected ways - like peeling the layers of an onion. Good read.

wendybird Sep 10, 2015

I'm an admitted foodie - over a hundred various herbs & spices cluttering my kitchen shelves, and too many fresh ingredients regularly slowing passing the "Best Before" date as I scramble to involve them all in my culinary plans. I was, therefore, thrilled to discover one of the English language's champion food writers, Ms. Ruth Reichel, was releasing a novel. I'd become addicted to her scrumptious prose in Gourmet magazine, as well as in "Tender at the Bone." The thumbnail plot noted here is a good overview. I will add I was a bit disappointed at how magically everything in Billie's life slid together as the novel opens and she ventures into NYC for the first time, and at the story's end, too - but this seemed a small argument to have with a truly yummy story. And, yes, I've made the gingerbread and it rocks!

Aug 03, 2015

Very readable book with an obvious appreciation for food, flavors and history. However, I think the author tried to mix too many characters into the batter rendering most of them half-baked and not very lifelike.
The rest of the time she spends much of the time tying the many underlying plot lines up with neat, pretty bows and I think that diluted the emotionality, drama and depth of the story.

Summary: Good reading for getting through a plane ride or passing time, but not a reason for a pastime.

Jun 27, 2015

Excellent book. Hard to put down. An interesting story about the interesting foods during World War 11, a mystery to solve, a love interest, and hurts to overcome. Deep characters and such a rich book. I can't wait to read her other novels.

Jun 25, 2015

I found this book very sweet and the characters lovable. The story was interesting enough to the end, but I felt like it lost the focal point of Billie's talent after the first third of the story (which was my sole reason for being interested in the first place).

There were some amateur moments in the book that I imagined ridiculously unrealistic, but overall the book has a nice plot and ending. I also enjoyed the imagery of New York as I had just visited last year.

Rosemary Mckee
May 09, 2015

I made Billie's Gingerbread cake. The recipe is talked about so much in the book that it made me so curious to try it, and there the recipe was, right at the end of the book. I was so careful to follow the instructions to the letter, not wanting to end up like Mrs. Coverley. I ground all the spices, like it said, in my cleaned coffee grinder, and I grated all that fresh ginger, and poured all that bourbon on it at the end. Wow! It was totally worth the effort. It's the best cake I've ever had! Just like Billie said it was!

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

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

Jan 04, 2015

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.

View All Comments


Add a Summary

Jul 18, 2014

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.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at Arapahoe Libraries

To Top