Food critic and author Ruth Reichl was the editor-in-chief at Gourmet magazine, is the host of “Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth” on PBS and has written several best-selling memoirs. Now she’s brought her knowledge and expertise to the world of fiction with her first novel, “Delicious!”

Billie Breslin has moved across the country and landed her dream job at the iconic food magazine Delicious! Even with her new job Billie is lonely, and to fill her days she begins a weekend job at a food shop, Fontanari’s.

Billie came to New York to escape a trauma and though it haunts her, letters to her sister show she is finding her way. She is making new friends and has an article published in the magazine. Then the magazine is shut down.

Billie is kept on staff to honor the Delicious! Guarantee: “Your money back if the recipe doesn’t work.” Alone in the mansion that has been the home to Delicious! for 100 years, Billie does her best to help with recipes, some decades old. In the pursuit of a 40-year-old recipe she finally ventures into the library, which has been closed for years.

The beautiful room is fascinating, and with the discovery of a secret room full of letters, Billie meets Lulu Swan. Lulu is 12 when she begins a correspondence with Chef James Beard. The first letter is dated November 3, 1942. Lulu is seeking help as she takes over the cooking while her father is at war and her mother now works.

Lulu comes alive through her letters, and with her words we see life on the home front during World War II. In her quest to find all the letters and her search for what happened to Lulu, Billie begins to heal.

This is a first novel and has a couple of clumsy places, but they are forgiven with the eloquence of the rest of the book. Reichl is wonderful with characters, and it is fascinating how real Lulu and her life become in just a few letters. You’ll find this very enjoyable read on the New Book Shelves at the library.

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