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BOOK REVIEW – Delicious! By Ruth Reichl

| 14 August 2014 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW – Delicious! By Ruth Reichl
Allen & Unwin, rrp $29.99
23 April 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Delicious by Ruth Reichl cover

Ruth Reichl, acclaimed food writer and editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine for the decade before it folded in 2012 brings some of those personal experiences to her debut novel, Delicious!

Her heroine, Billie Breslin, lands a dream job at Delicious! magazine, only to find the magazine cave before she finds her feet, and whilst the rest of the staff are out on their butts, Billie stays on to answer reader letters for a few months.

This presents some issues immediately: why is the newest staff member kept on, and the rest unceremoniously booted? We never really find that out, and there are other minor questions left nagging long after the last page is turned.

We do, however, discover that Breslin has a dark secret – an emotional block that steps her using her remarkable cooking skills.

She also discovers the library of the magazine’s letters dating back decades, and in the book’s most engaging subplot, becomes enamoured with the ongoing exchange between then editor/chef James Beard and young schoolgirl Lulu Swan during World War II.

It’s a tale that helps the unsatisfied Billie to come to grips not only with her past, but also with taking the next big step in her life.

A clutch of other subplots confuse matters a bit: with so many minor dramas vying for attention there’s not sufficient priority given to a primary plot. Is it the closure of the magazine? Breslin’s future? The resolution of her issues? Discovering what happened in the letter-conversation between Swan & Beard? What happened to the rest of the staff of the magazine who she stays in contact with? What will be the fate of the library of letters and of the building itself? It’s all a bit conflicting.

Despite calling out to the page on multiple occasions (“why did they do that?” “What the…?!?!”), Delicious! is still an enjoyable read, and some of its characters are well fleshed out enough to really engage.

Category: Book Reviews

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