by Ruth Reichl


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Ruth Reichl is a born storyteller. Through her restaurant reviews, where she celebrated the pleasures of a well-made meal, and her bestselling memoirs that address our universal feelings of love and loss, Reichl has achieved a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, with this magical debut novel, she has created a sumptuous, wholly realized world that will enchant you.
Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.
To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.
Praise for Tender at the Bone
“While all good food writers are humorous . . . few are so riotously, effortlessly entertaining as Ruth Reichl.”The New York Times Book Review
“A poignant, yet hilarious, collection of stories about people [Reichl] has known and loved, and who, knowingly or unknowingly, steered her on the path to fulfill her destiny as one of the world’s leading food writers.”Chicago Sun-Times
Praise for Comfort Me with Apples
“The book’s charm emerges through Reichl’s writing, her observations and her amazing ability to capture people in a few memorable sentences. . . . You just have to read it.”USA Today
“Reads not like life described but like life lived . . . Each story affirms [Reichl’s] desire to get beyond the surface, even as she celebrates its unlikely depths.”The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812982022
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 85,098
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ruth Reichl is the bestselling author of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples. She was editor in chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She lives in New York City with her husband, son, and two cats.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 16, 1948

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., University of Michigan, 1968; M.A., University of Michigan, 1970

Read an Excerpt

Eleven Years Later

Excerpted from "Delicious!"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Ruth Reichl.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

1. Billie eventually writes about Sal's as if it's "a way of life." Do you have a favorite establishment that you would describe similarly? What is it like, and how does it make you feel? 

2. Mrs. Cloverly’s disastrous concoctions are even funnier because she’s unfazed by failure. She seems to keep trudging forward, turning ever-less-palatable dishes out of her kitchen. Have you encountered such a cook? What is the most astonishingly—and hilariously—unappetizing dish you’ve ever been served? 

3. Diana and Sammy's friendships help the formerly-contained Billie become more confident. Has a friend ever given you the courage to be more fully yourself? What did you reveal?

4. Try to imagine a story that Sammy might have written for Delicious! Where in the world is he, and what is he writing about? 

5. Lulu’s letters teach Billie about the relentless uncertainty endured by the people on the homefront during World War II. She learns that Lulu finds solace in cooking with Mrs. Cappuzzelli and for her mother. Can you remember a meal that helped get you through a particularly painful moment? Where were you? Who were you with? And what was the meal? 

6. Rationing changed the way Americans ate. Lulu throws herself into this new food landscape, experimenting with unfamiliar vegetables like milkweed and pumpkin leaves. What would you make if you had no butter, meat, or dairy? What would you forage for?

7.  If you had a victory garden, what would you grow? 

8. Do you have friends or family who remember what it was like to eat during World War II? What stories have they shared with you?

9. Lulu writes: “When Mother, Mr. Jones and I were walking through those strange, crowded downtown streets, where people were sticking their hands into pickle barrels, pointing to smoked fish, and eating sliced herring, I saw the scene in a whole new way.  They weren’t buying food: They were finding their way home.”  What foods feel like home to you? 

10. As the book closes, what does Billie discover she owes Genie? 

Customer Reviews

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Delicious!: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is everything i want a book to be. Great characters whom i care about. Food. And a little mystery. I am halfway through and cannot put it down.
Christine_Emming More than 1 year ago
Billie Breslin is the kind of girl I'd befriend: hungry and bookish. Always agog and somewhat bumbling, this romantic comedy lead stumbles onto the foodie magazine scene in an enviable scenario (somewhat reminiscent of Reichl's own haphazard trajectory), where she endures bullying and a repeat caller who comically messes up the magazine's recipes. Hoping to prove her writing chops from the editor's assistant position, Billie's new job at Delicious! magazine still leaves wiggle room for a weekend job dishing Italian sides at a close-knit family shop, the fodder for Billie's first published article and an unsurprising romance. The book's unexpected turn comes when Billie unearths a series of letters between a teenaged girl and James Beard written during World War II and hidden in a secret room of the magazine's boarded-up library. As Billie follows the late librarian's clues to find the hidden letters, her search also leads to deepened friendships and self-discovery, and, naturally, a makeover. (I said romantic comedy, right? Totally a Drew Barrymore moment.) I've closely followed Reichl's writing for numerous reasons — okay, mainly the food writing with a large side of intrigue — and was excited to find her foray into fiction such a believable transition. Yes, there are several plot wrinkles that feel heavy-handed, but they're minor and, in my opinion, forgiveable. The characters, Billie in particular, are well-drawn and familiar, friendly people whom you want to like, making it easy to be drawn along with the story. But Reichl's imagined letters to James Beard are the real gems in this book, rich with history and curiosity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I had read the story about her mother and knew something about her work, but just happened to pick this up. I absolutely loved it. Good story, good characters, liked the relationships, could enjoy food and not consume calories. Only bad thing about it? It ended! Hoping she writes another novel soon.
SilversReviews More than 1 year ago
Recipes, libraries, letters, books, food, authentic Italian butcher and cheese shops, aromas you can smell through the pages, and marvelous characters. What more can a reader ask for? DELICIOUS is a reader's and a cook's paradise. DELICIOUS is one wonderful page of words after another. The magic never stopped as Ms. Reichl introduced the reader to her believable, lovable characters and to mouthwatering food. Billie and every single character will steal your heart. The characters just had something that pulled you in. When Billie finds letters in the library of a now defunct magazine company that were sent to a famous chef, Mr. Beard, from 13-year old Lulu during WWII, the book continues with the same mood of enjoying life, enjoying food, and discovering oneself. If you love old buildings from the 1800's, you will be in for another surprise. These letters became the basis of DELICIOUS and also created a mystery about who Lulu was. The letters were used by a librarian as a fun game of finding clues that were very cleverly hidden and ones that led to the next clue...was the game ever over? If Lulu were still alive, Billie knew what a wonderful treat it would be to meet her. If you want to be entertained and have your taste buds taken to the highest level, be sure to read DELICIOUS. You will also have the pleasure of learning how to face hidden fears in your life and share your life with those you should share it with. DELICIOUS is unlike any book I have read. It grabs hold of you and takes you along for a "delicious" adventure and a very pleasurable reading ride. My rating of DELICIOUS is a taste tempting, entertaining, and loving 5/5. Don't miss reading DELICIOUS. It is a beautiful, delightful book.¿ I received this book free of charge and without compensation from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted nothing to do with this book initially because it was not about serial killer or some other gripping mystery. I recognized where Billie was in the first third of the book and the rest was about putting her back together and processing her feelings. My dad died when I was about a third of the way through and this cast of characters kept me company for 125 pages that first night and then it took me two weeks to finish the rest of it. I'm so thankful I had this book to keep me company during that time that I will always remember that and Billie's healing helped me to process my feelings. Thank you to the author for all of that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book . Started reading it and could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is delicious. I love the story about Billie and the various people she comes in contact with while working for a food magazine in NYC. The story is charming and the description of the foods made my mouth water. The story line was charming and moved along at a nice pace. Loved all the characters, Sal, Rosalie, Maggie, Mitch and Thursday. And the best was that it takes place in New York City. I am from the city and moved several years ago. It brought back so many memories and reminds how much I miss the city. I have can't forget to mention the great letters from Lulu to James Beard. Very clever. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd give this less than a star if I could. I wish I liked it better, but I really get tired of Reichl's books replacing therapy. She needs to move on
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I love to cook and greatly enjoyed how the world of food was immersed in this story. While some of the story was a bit predictable, I was not expecting the story to include life during WWII. That storyline was an added treat to an already interesting read.
KBinPA More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I've ever read. I didn't want it to end. I hope Ruth Reichl can write another one. Hard to top this. Loved the chaacters, mystery, and the food.
Anonymous 15 hours ago
this book was such a good read. it's a mystery mixed with romance. it also has the most beautiful adjectives to describe the food that makes every morsel sound magical. truly a lovely book!
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely enjoyed it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another hit for Reichel. Her first work of fiction is a delight. Readers will love Billie and all of the characters in her world. Delicious is a fun glimpse into the foodie culture and publishing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DDJTJ More than 1 year ago
DELICIOUS is DELIGHTFUL! I was hooked on the book after the first page. The characters ( even Sherman) are wonderful and the sights, sounds, & smells of New York kept me reading page after page! I received this book from goodreads in exchange for a review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't like to cook and I'm not a foodie but a friend recommended this so highly I bought it anyway. What a waste of money and time. It reminds me a book written for pre-teens,very unsophisticated. Not much of a plot, nothing surprising or unpredictable or even interesting. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite interesting and an easy read !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would love to spend time with the "characters" in this story. Major drawback: The descriptions of the food and drink. Hungry all the time.
nmkCO More than 1 year ago
Wonderful novel. Compelling story grabs you right away. I hope she writes more novels like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a lovely book, with such wonderful characters. I had a tuck in day yesterday with a nasty bout of bronchitis, and it was a great book to cuddle up with. A nice cozy mystery solved through clues in an old fashioned card catalog in a locked secret library. Historical building and renovations, a bit of foodie talk, a love story, more foodie talk, travel talk, table setting talk, what more could a girl ask for? And thank you, not peppered with recipes. And a marvelous back story, of food rationing during World War II and James Beard which supplied one of the mysteries. I hated to have it end. I need to learn more about James Beard.