Table with oysters and wine and a tablet featuring "The Paris Novel"

Author Insights

A delicious new story of self-discovery in “The Paris Novel” by Ruth Reichl


Apr 23, 2024

Ruth Reichl’s got the recipe for a good read. As the former editor-in-chief at Gourmet magazine, restaurant critic for The New York Times, and bestselling author of five memoirs, Reichl knows her way around a kitchen — and a plot line.

Ruth Reichl
Photo: © Shannon Greer
This time, the renowned food writer is stepping into the delectable streets of Paris in her new novel out on April 23. A feast for the senses, The Paris Novel features Stella, a woman on an unlikely adventure of decadent meals and self-discovery that has been called “essential nourishment” by Nigella Lawson. This dazzling, heartfelt tour through the food, art, and fashion scenes of 1980s Paris will leave readers ravenous for more.

Discover this and more books to devour by the six-time James Beard Award winner below, available to borrow from your library on the Libby app.

The Paris NovelAbout The Paris Novel 🎧

Stella reached for an oyster, tipped her head, and tossed it back. It was cool and slippery, the flavor so briny it was like diving into the ocean. Oysters, she thought. Where have they been all my life?

When her estranged mother dies, Stella is left with an unusual inheritance: a one-way plane ticket and a note reading “Go to Paris.” Stella is hardly cut out for adventure; a traumatic childhood has kept her confined to the strict routines of her comfort zone. But when her boss encourages her to take time off, Stella resigns herself to honoring her mother’s last wishes.

Alone in a foreign city, Stella falls into old habits, living cautiously and frugally. Then she stumbles across a vintage store, where she tries on a fabulous Dior dress. The shopkeeper insists that this dress was meant for Stella and for the first time in her life Stella does something impulsive. She buys the dress — and embarks on an adventure.

Her first stop: the iconic brasserie Les Deux Magots, where Stella tastes her first oysters and then meets an octogenarian art collector who decides to take her under his wing. As Jules introduces Stella to a veritable who’s who of the Paris literary, art, and culinary worlds, she begins to understand what it might mean to live a larger life.

As weeks — and many decadent meals — go by, Stella ends up living as a “tumbleweed” at famed bookstore Shakespeare & Company, uncovers a hundred-year-old mystery in a Manet painting, and discovers a passion for food that may be connected to her past. A feast for the senses, this novel is a testament to living deliciously, taking chances, and finding your true home.

Ruth Reichl loves listening to audiobooks and even narrates several of her books. Listen to her suggest some books she’s loved:

More books by Ruth Reichl

Save Me the PlumsSave Me the Plums 🎧

In this memoir, trailblazing food writer and beloved restaurant critic Ruth Reichl chronicles her groundbreaking tenure as editor in chief of Gourmet. Complete with recipes, this book is a personal journey of a woman coming to terms with being in charge and making a mark, following a passion and holding on to her dreams — even when she ends up in a place she never expected to be.

My Kitchen YearMy Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life 🎧

In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. This memoir follows the change of seasons — and Reichl’s emotions — as she slowly heals through the simple pleasures of cooking. Part cookbook, part memoir, part paean to the household gods, My Kitchen Year may be Ruth Reichl’s most stirring book yet — one that reveals a refreshingly vulnerable side of the world's most famous food editor as she shares treasured recipes to be returned to again and again and again.

Delicious!Delicious! 🎧

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. At first, Billie feels like a fish out of water — until she’s welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff and seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene. Then an unexpected turn of events leads Billie to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, she finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky 12-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history and inspire Billie to come to terms with her fears and her ability to open her heart to love.

Tender at the BoneTender at the Bone

At an early age, Ruth Reichl discovered that “food could be a way of making sense of the world. If you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were.” Her deliciously crafted memoir is the story of a life defined, determined, and enhanced in equal measure by a passion for food, by unforgettable people, and by the love of tales well told.

Beginning with her mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first foie gras, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s.

Comfort Me with ApplesComfort Me With Apples 🎧

Reichl’s pursuit of good food and good company leads her to New York and China, France and Los Angeles, and her stories of cooking and dining with world-famous chefs range from the madcap to the sublime. Through it all, Reichl makes each and every course a hilarious and instructive occasion for novices and experts alike. She shares some of her favorite recipes while also sharing the intimacies of her personal life in a style so honest and warm that readers will feel they are enjoying a conversation over a meal with a friend.

*Title availability may vary by library & region.

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RELATED READ: 20 cookbooks to inspire you in the kitchen


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga, or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers and buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


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