Monday, November 24, 2014

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

from goodreads: 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.

This book seemed appropriate to review the week of Thanksgiving. I think food is brought up in every chapter. This is probably my favorite read of 2014! It was such a well-written book, with a setting and characters I adored. Billie is such a relatable character. I loved watching her grow and become a little more daring. Without revealing any spoilers, throughout this book Billie is trying to overcome a traumatic event in her life. But the story is so expertly written that the event isn't revealed until later in the book. We all deal with grief in our own way--Billie just buried it deep inside, while trying to make herself invisible. After a makeover, she feels different. I loved her observation, "I decided that it wasn't pretty that I felt, but confident. If I saw this girl walking down the street, I'd think she was cool, that she led a fascinating life. She looked nothing like the real me. But maybe most people were crouching behind a facade. Maybe inside the sleek Joan-Mary was a frightened little person. Was that why Sammy had adopted his uniform of tweeds? Did they give him courage? Maybe that was why her talked the way he did. Maybe everyone was scared." I love that this book shows that everyone has their own insecurities and ways to mask them.

I also loved the story within a story--the history of food during WWII. It was so interesting to see up close what foods were rationed, and to see how creative people had to get with the little they had. It was fascinating to read small samples of life in the states during the war. Lulu's determination to make the best of every situation was admirable. She saw past prejudices and really cared for all those around her.  I loved that Lulu inspired Billie to put her fears aside and become more confident. The best stories do that!

I can't give this book enough praise. Food, libraries, recipes, books, and hidden letters--what more can you ask for in a book?!

Rating: 5
Published: 5.2014

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite reads for 2014. I devoured it. I loved the descriptions. Couldn't you just smell Billie's walk through little Italy. So glad you liked it too!


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