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I have always liked Reichl's style: I enjoyed all her memoirs and looked forward to every one of her editorials in Gourmet. When I heard she turned her hand to fiction, I was already predisposed to like it. I'm so glad I managed to find the time to read Delicious! I loved seeing the New York food scene through the young protagonist's eyes.
- The general plot: Billie Breslin leaves college and her California birthplace to take a shot at being a food writer in New York. She is thrilled to land a job at Delicious! magazine, even if one of her major tasks is fielding the recipe hotline. When the magazine closes down, Billie's job is the only one to survive; after all, people are still cooking out of old issues and still have questions. When she and a colleague visit the magazine's long-abandoned library after the demise of Delicious!, they uncover a secret that involves a famous chef (James Beard!), a young girl, and World War II intelligence. Will they be able figure out the entire story before the building is sold?
- What I liked: It was so much fun to read about Billie's adventures in the city and to meet the people she befriends: a cheese shop owner, a restaurant chef, a travel writer, the cooks in the test kitchen, and so on. I liked the mix of plot lines too. Besides figuring out the James Beard World War II mystery, Billie is coming into her own as an adult, gaining self-confidence and even finding a little romance. I rooted for Billie and smiled as she began to embrace her personal style.
- For food lovers: My mouth watered at the descriptions of the foods: cheeses, cakes, succulent meats, wines, and pastas. When combing through the library at Delicious!, Billie comes across all kinds of fascinating advice for how to cook and eat during times of rationing; did you know that parts of milkweed are edible?
- General thoughts: Reichl held her own as a novelist. She gave Delicious! a strong foundation in what she's familiar with: the food scene in New York and life after the death of a magazine. Sure, there were few surprises in the romance department. but the library mystery was little more difficult to figure out. The characters are well constructed, and I love any novel that makes me want to spend time in the kitchen. Think of Delicious! as a relaxing weekend read, and you won't be disappointed.
- Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Random House Audio; 12 hr, 58 min), read by one of my favorite narrators, Julia Whelan. Whelan did a fine job keeping me fully engaged in the novel. Her voice was perfect for the twenty-something Billie, and although Whelan doesn't overly dramatize each individual character, I had no trouble figuring out who was doing the talking. Whelan's a little weaker on some of the accents, but I still recommend the audiobook for those who want to listen instead of read.
Source: Review (print & audio) (see review policy)
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