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An Appetite for Violets By Martine Bailey

An Appetite for Violets

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A compelling tale of obsession and mystery, introducing a brilliant new voice in historical fiction.

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An Appetite for Violets Summary

An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey

That's how it is for us servants. No one pays you much heed; mostly you're invisible as furniture. Yet you overhear a conversation here, and add a little gossip there. A writing desk lies open and you cannot help but read a paper. Then you find something, something you should not have found.

Irrepressible Biddy Leigh, under-cook at the foreboding Mawton Hall, only wants to marry her childhood sweetheart and set up her own tavern. But when her elderly master marries the young Lady Carinna, Biddy is unwittingly swept up in a world of scheming, secrets and lies.

Forced to accompany her new mistress to Italy, Biddy takes with her an old household book of recipes, The Cook's Jewel, in which she records her observations. When she finds herself embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, Biddy realises that the secrets she holds could be the key to her survival - or her downfall . . .

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An Appetite for Violets Reviews

If you enjoyed Jo Baker's Longbourn you'll enjoy this. It's another beautifully written 18th century servant story, sad in the same sort of way and similarly rich . . . An impressive debut. * Daily Mail *
Martine Bailey writes with such easy, compelling grace, and in a fascinating new genre - best described as culinary gothic. I was hooked and enraptured. * Fay Weldon *
I adored this novel: a delicious addictive mix of confectionery, skulduggery and crime, sprinkled with dark secrets and sauced with piquant comedy. * Maria McCann, bestselling author of AS MEAT LOVES SALT and THE WILDING *
An absolutely delicious novel; I savoured every page. * Imogen Robertson, author of Instruments of Darkness *
Biddy's irrepressible nature is apparent from the very start . . . she is one of the most likeable protagonists I have encountered in a long time . . . It's rare to encounter descriptive skills as good as this. At every point I felt I could see, hear, smell and taste what was going on . . . This novel takes in historical, Gothic and crime ficiton in a clean, easy sweep and manages to pack in cultural and culinary observations without once disrupting flow or timing . . . There's a great sense of the book being a complicated and daring recipe; both the timing and the proportions of each ingredient needed to be exactly right to produce the best result. Bailey's recipe has worked perfectly. I was cheering for the heroes, booing for the villains and feeling disappointed as the end of the book crept up on me. AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS is a terrific novel . . . a must-read for anyone who enjoys a full, flavoursome and hearty story. * The Bookbag *
A tour de force . . . This novel is about rulers and the ruled, cookery and the emergence of restaurants, sugar-craft, slavery, all kinds of love and companionship and also a great mystery story. The writing itself is beautifully fluent and quirky in its use of eighteenth-century parlance, yet this latter element was used charmingly and never overdone. It's full of twists and turns with marvellous moments of drama and some super revelations I never saw coming! I'd recommend this novel to anyone wanting an insight into the period and a jolly good read with satisfying and very real depths. * Rebecca Mascull, author of The Visitors *
It's not often that I read a book as voraciously as this. The last was THE GOLDFINCH by DonnaTartt, so Martine is in excellent company. I just had to know how this story of deception, intrigue and passion ended. * S D Sykes, author of Plague Land *
A hugely evocative novel that transported me right back to 18th Century Europe. AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS is filled with sensuous food writing and Biddy has such a distinctive voice * Sarah Vaughan, author of The Art of Baking Blind *
I really, really loved AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS and you caught Biddy's voice so beautifully I could hear her in my head. I read the proof while I was stuck on a few train journeys and I was racing through it while never wanting it to stop. The recipes, the voices, the places, the atmosphere and tension - it was all so high-coloured and vivid I felt it was playing out in front of my eyes. At points I even forgot I was on a FGW train . . . It's so accomplished and confident for a debut novel. -- Lucy Dillon, author of A HUNDRED PIECES OF ME
The recipes [Bailey] includes throughout the book give her novel a wonderful flavour . . . Bailey has chosen her language cleverly, choosing foodie adjectives when possible to create a full sensory experience . . . AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS is part Gothic mystery melodrama, part romance, part social commentary, part history of cuisine. * For Books' Sake *
AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS is a feast of unique characters, suspense, passion and delicious storytelling. Martine Bailey has served up a beautifully rendered, haunting tale told by an unforgettable heroine. A novel to devour yet savor. * Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen's Governess *
Irresistible. Full of mystery and intrigue, above and below stairs shenanigans and cookery. Gastro-porn at its best. * The Arts Show on BBC Radio 2 *
There are mysteries to solve, secrets to uncover, plots to unravel . . . The story is both light and intriguing with twists and turns aplenty . . . It is a cleverly woven tale, yet for all the depth and detail the book remains an easy and enjoyable read. Just as the lightest of dishes can contain a host of complimentary tastes and textures, so this book offers up a complex, thought provoking story that is easily digested. * Jackie Law's Book Blog *
Biddy has to be one of my favourite heroines to appear for a long time . . . I have never seen language so lightly and skillfully interwoven into a historical character . . . You do not have to be a foodie to love this book (although you will adore it if you are one!). Bailey's descriptions and Biddy's enthusiasm soon give you an appetite for a fascinating culinary world . . . It is a historical novel with mystery, crime, romance, comedy and gothic elements. Whilst parts of the story are dark, the book has an overall cheerful feel to it. It is easy to read and never feels cumbersome. I suppose at the end of the day, it is like one of Biddy's recipes. There are many ingredients, some of which you would hesitate to blend together, but when all is mixed and cooked, the finished dish is a triumph. * Laura Purcell, author of Queen of Bedlam *
A deliciously inventive story . . . Biddy Leigh, our heroine, is one of the most engaging characters I've come across in a long time . . . AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS was inspired by recipe books from the 18th century which are matched with a love of food, history and travel. A perfect combination and, like Biddy's cooking, mixed in just such a way to meld together all the flavors creating a most delicious story. * Shiny New Books *
A charming debut and a genuinely original and insightful novel. * Good Housekeeping *
The first half of the novel whets the reader's appetite for more. There are charming recipes that kick off each of Biddy's chapters. And then there is the central mystery of what happened in Tuscany . . . The pace bustles with subplots . . . If you are looking for a food-related light read, this fits the bill quite nicely. * Straits Times, Singapore *
A delectable dish that will appeal to readers with a taste for historical mysteries as well as fiction about food. * Booklist Starred Review *
Debut novelist (and award winning amateur cook) Bailey whips up a tasty confection of history, mystery, and intrigue. Fans of 18th-century writers as James Boswell, Tobias Smollett, Henry Fielding, and Samuel Richardson will savor this delicious read. * Library Journal Starred Review *

About Martine Bailey

Inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes, writing historical fiction has allowed Martine to indulge in her obsessions with food, history and travel.

As an amateur cook, Martine won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. In pursuit of authenticity she has studied with food historian Ivan Day and experienced Georgian food and fashion at first-hand with an historic re-enactment society.

Martine lives in Cheshire, England and Auckland, New Zealand. She is married with one son and is currently writing a second historical novel.

Additional information

An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
Martine Bailey
Used - Very Good
Hodder & Stoughton
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Overall we expect it to be in very good condition, but if you are not entirely satisfied please get in touch with us.