Let me just say that I love Ruth Reichl. She knows food and she knows New York City. She's not one to languish over her storyline in that she moves things right along, but still holds back certain details that intrigue. It's exactly what she's done with her latest novel. It's obvious from the start that young Billie Breslin has a strange 'something' in her past, but what it is remains a mystery until far into the book. Instead, Billie's refusal to work in the kitchen after the first few pages of the book tease the reader. Her letters home to her sister reveal a tight family on the west coast, even as she makes her way as a young administrative assistant at Delicious!, a prominent foodie magazine based in NYC. She meets a host of interesting folks as she settles into her job and is introduced to life in the city - everyone from the editor-in-chief with his darling mutt to the cantankerous chef in the magazine's test kitchen. Especially endearing is the lovable Italian family that runs a popular neighborhood cheese shop and hires Billie for a weekend gig at the shop. Then, of course, there's the handsome Complainer who stops into the shop every weekend to mix it up with the shop sales folk. It's a fun blend of people that all come together to tell a story of a magazine that is closed abruptly and the mystery that surrounds its headquarters and a room full of correspondence between James Beard (a past employee of Delicious!) and a young fan during the WWII era.
This is a rich novel, full of small details about foodie trends, past and present. Reichl drops names of famous chefs and restaurants, also current and past. There are scenes where dinners and their menus get top treatment, all while moving the story line along. It's a fun read that will no doubt, inspire a few recipes in tribute to the book! Oh, and the girl gets the guy at the end ... equally satisfying too when you've been reading chick lit.