Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Review: Delicious! by Ruth Reichl (audio)

Title: Delicious!    
Author: Ruth Reichl      
Narrator: Julia Whelan   
Published: May 2014, Random House Audio  
Length: 12 hours 58 minutes   
Source: Personal copy via Audible 

In her bestselling memoirs Ruth Reichl has long illuminated the theme of how food defines us, and never more so than in her dazzling fiction debut about sisters, family ties, and a young woman who must finally let go of guilt and grief to embrace her own true gifts.

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.

My thoughts: This is the first time I've read anything by Ruth Reichl. She has written a few nonfiction books, but this is her first foray into fiction and I loved it!!! I don't tend to read much nonfiction, but now am seriously leaning towards picking up some of Ruth's other books. I just hope this isn't her last fiction book!

This book has a little bit of everything, but will certainly appeal to foodies and lovers of New York City. The descriptions of the foods left my mouth watering and I'm not just talking about the recipes that were created during the book, but even about the foods that Billie would see on her trips to the different markets. Then there are the descriptions of the city and the buildings - I felt as if I was there alongside Billie as she would go about her day.

I loved the character of Billie. There was just something about her that pulled me in and made me cheer for her throughout the book. There are definitely some secrets she's keeping, such as why she has panic attacks when she cooks, along with other secrets that she stumbles upon while working at Delicious! after the magazine folds. The other characters are just are richly drawn and I really liked them all - quirks and attitudes and all!

I also loved the little nuggets of information that you end up learning while this book. A lot came from the letters that Billie discovers, letters written by a young girl to the famed James Beard during WWII. Not only were there tidbits about the war itself, but also about food and how it was used during the war - all things I freely admit I did not know, but was fascinated to learn.

There's so much more I can say about this book, but it really is a book that must be experienced. I listened to the audio production of the book and am actually leaning towards purchasing a print copy just to have on my shelves to peruse from time to time. This is definitely a book I would consider as comfort reading.


Audio Thoughts: Julia Whelan knocked this narration out of the park!!! I was completely captivated by her voice and the way she told the story, and I think this just added to my enjoyment of the book. I'm really glad that I own this audio, thanks to Audible, because I can see myself listening to it again and again. It's that good - both the story and the narration!!!

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6 comments

  1. Wow! This is a thrilling review. I won this audio book in a giveaway will be listening to it soon!

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  2. This sounds so wonderful, Kristin! I enjoyed your enthusiastic review. I have an older book by this author, Tender at the Bone, which I need to read. Many book bloggers seem to be "foodies" as well, so I suspect we'd enjoy this author's work a great deal.

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  3. I am in the middle of listening to this and am loving it.

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  4. I am such a foodie and I love books about food! I can't wait to read this one. :)

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  5. I read this in print earlier in the year and really liked it too! The narrator is new to me - have you listened to other books narrated by her? I am always on the lookout for new ones.

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  6. I'm glad you enjoyed this one and liked the audio. I loved Reichl's Tender as the Bone though wasn't quite as bowled over the 2nd book. Her nonfiction is definitely worth reading and it sounds like I should definitely give this a try too. Thanks for sharing!

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