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Friday, May 23, 2014

Delicious! A Novel...Review

About the book:
Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious!, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine's deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the "Delicious Guarantee"-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn't know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine's library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu's letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu's courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.

Billie Breslin ventures from Santa Barbara to New York and a job with a prestigious food magazine.  Drawn into this new and colorful world, Billie begins to shine.  When the magazine is shut down, she is asked to stay on and answer the phone to honor the "Delicious Guarantee", which is a full refund if a recipe fails.  She spends her days talking to odd people who make silly recipe adjustments, even as she spends her weekends in an Italian cheese shop.  When an intriguing mystery comes her way through the magazine's old and forgotten library and a charming series of letters written during World War 2 between a young girl and a famous chef, Billie has no clue that her life will change in a remarkable way.

I fell in love with these characters.   Every single one of them.

I was not familiar with Ruth Reichl, but I will certainly seek out her other books, because with a smooth and sinuous narrative, the language is beautifully lyrical.  I could smell Billie and Sal's meandering tour through Little Italy.  Mr. Complainer's visits to Fontanari's delighted me.  I devoured the library with its card catalogs and files of letters and recipes and Billie and Sammy's adventures there.  Lulu's correspondence with James Beard captivated me and I adored the resolution to that story.  Billie's letters to her sister were poignant and as Billie admits her secret burden, watching her transformation from a meek, drab creature who lived in her sister's shadow to a vibrant, beautiful and animated woman was delightful.

The story is well researched.  The historical aspect of World War 2 and the treatment of Italian Americans was fascinating and completely unfamiliar to me.  The past and present were woven together in a savory tapestry of flavors and like a blissful meal with friends, I did not want to see this story end.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Ruth Reichl here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

2 comments:

  1. I'm putting the audio version of this on my phone right now. I'm excited to start it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    ReplyDelete