Monday, August 24, 2015

Delicious! - Ruth Reichl

When Billie Breslin moves to New York after dropping out of college, she interviews for the position of executive assistant to the editor of Delicous! which is one of the oldest food magazines in the business.  She's ecstatic to get the job and move into the world of food writing, because it's common knowledge that the editor gives his assistants writing assignments.  However, her dream comes crashing down all too soon when Delicious! is shut down.  Everyone is let go--everyone except Billie, who's left behind to maintain the Delicious! Guarantee, which is that every recipe works or your money back.  Alone in the massive Timbers Manor, Billie answers letters and phone calls relating to the guarantee and explores the long-locked library, where she and a former coworker discover a store of letters from WWII that open a whole new world of knowledge.  Meanwhile, Billie works weekends at an Italian specialty food store and interacts with a host of other colorful characters.

I really, really liked this book.  I'm not normally a huge fan of first-person narratives, but I found Billie very personable and thought it was easy to connect with her.  Figuring out the whole Genie thing was an intriguing little side mystery--you can tell something's up there, but there are a few possibilities and it's not glaringly obvious which one is the real answer until it's actually brought up.  I was able to piece together some of it, but not all of it.  I enjoyed the side characters, too.  Sal, Rosalie, Mr. Complainer/Mitch, Sammy...all of them were great.  They all had distinct personalities and roles, and while they were all supporting characters, they really did lend support instead of just being there for no apparent reason.

There's a mystery here, but it's not a murder/suspense mystery.  Instead, it's a quirky little historical mystery, one that's cute instead of nerve-wracking.  I don't really enjoy reading letters in novels, but most of the ones included in Delicious! were short enough to not be trying on the nerves.  The letter-mystery plot did feel like it was originally intended to go in a different direction, but didn't, which left me feeling a little disjointed.  And I wish that more of the recipes that had been mentioned were included!  The recipe for Billie's gingerbread cake, which features throughout the book, is included in the back, but none of the other delicious-sounding (Delicious.  Hahahaha.) recipes were listed.  Still, this was a book that I couldn't put down, because it was just good.  Wholesome, enjoyable, with a great cast of characters, a minor love story (nothing to impede the plot, just to boost it) and a little bit of mystery--just enough to keep it intriguing.

4 solid stars out of 5!

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