It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a book on Savvy Eats that wasn’t a cookbook. Delicious!, famed food writer Ruth Reichl’s first novel, seems like a good way to jump back into the book reviewing pool. I loved all of Reichl’s memoirs, so I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Delicious! earlier this year.
In an attempt to keep her novel from sounding too much like her memoirs, Reichl made her heroine, Billie, what she described in an interview as the “anti-Ruth.” And it worked – where Reichl’s love of all things food shines through bright and clear in her memoirs, Billie is unsure and hesitant. She has a brilliant palate, but stepping foot in a kitchen induces immediate panic attacks. But she takes a job at Delicious!, a fictitious food magazine, serving as an administrative assistant. When the magazine suddenly shuts its doors, she is kept on staff to uphold the magazine’s “love the recipe or your money back” guarantee. Alone in the building, she explores the library, only to stumble upon a stash of letters between a young girl and James Beard from the World War II era.
As Billie endeavors to find more of these letters, she learns about both national and food history, and comes to terms with her own personal and family histories as well.
I expected to enjoy Delicious!, largely because I love the way Reichl writes about food. But I didn’t anticipate the plot and characters to be quite as engrossing as they were. One night, I found myself reading well past midnight, unable to convince myself to put the book down and go to bed. If you’ve enjoyed Reichl’s memoirs, or you’re a fan of both fiction and food writing, I highly recommend this book.
I give Delicious! by Ruth Reichl…