Novel foodies will enjoy

DELICIOUS<br><b>Ruth Reichl</b><br><i>Allen & Unwin</i>
DELICIOUS<br><b>Ruth Reichl</b><br><i>Allen & Unwin</i>
Author Ruth Reichl knows food. She's written cookbooks, food memoirs, has been a restaurant critic and was the editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine for 10 years.

Delicious! is her first novel and her knowledge of the industry and obvious passion for food make it easy to forgive the weaknesses in the story. Quiet, mousy Billie Breslin has just been hired as an executive assistant at the prestigious Delicious! magazine - a throwback to when magazines had money for frivolities such as test kitchens, travel and actual staff. But not for long. Billie has only just started settling into her job and her budding new life in New York when the magazine closes. She's kept on to fulfil the magazine's customer guarantee and this is where the second strand of the novel begins.

The chance discovery of a 12-year-old girl's wartime letters to legendary chef James Beard introduces a mystery for Billie to solve and also provides a fascinating look at wartime cuisine and rationing.

There's a lot going on in this book, which helps keep things fun and fast moving but also leaves some elements a little undercooked. There's a token romance; the disappointing mini-mystery of why Billie - who has the palate of a culinary superhero - has turned her back on cooking; and her inevitable transformation from plain Jane to a bit of a dish.

In the end it really is a love affair with food. Foodies will enjoy Delicious!, and non-foodies will regret not being foodies.

- Laura Hewson is an ODT subeditor.

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