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An appetite for violets
2015
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After accompanying her new mistress to Italy, Biddy Leigh, the under-cook at Mawton Hall, begins a culinary adventure that includes secrets and a murderous conspiracy. - (Baker & Taylor)

After accompanying her new mistress to Italy, the under-cook at Mawton Hall begins a culinary adventure that includes secrets and a murderous conspiracy. Includes authentic 18th-century European recipes. - (Baker & Taylor)

""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. 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, she documents her adventures and culinary discoveries in an old household book of recipes, The Cook's Jewel. Biddy grows intrigued by her fellow travelers, but her secretive and unconventional mistress is the most intriguing of all. In London Biddy finds herself attracted to her mistress's younger brother. In France she discovers her mistress's dark secret. At last in Italy, Biddy becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, knowing the secrets she holds could be a key to a better life, or her downfall. Inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes and set at the time of the invention of the first restaurants, An Appetite for Violets is a literary feast for lovers of historical fiction. Like Jo Baker's Longbourn, it opens a window into the fascinating lives of servants, while also delivering a suspenseful tale of obsession and betrayal"-- - (Baker & Taylor)


"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. Then you find something, something you should not have found."

Irrepressible Biddy Leigh, under-cook at forbidding Mawton Hall, only wants to marry her childhood sweetheart and set up her own tavern. But when her elderly master marries young Lady Carinna, Biddy is unwittingly swept up in a world of scheming, secrets, and lies. Forced to accompany her new mistress to Italy, she documents her adventures and culinary discoveries in an old household book of recipes, The Cook's Jewel. Biddy grows intrigued by her fellow travelers, but her secretive and unconventional mistress is the most intriguing of all.

In London, Biddy finds herself attracted to her mistress's younger brother. In France, she discovers her mistress's dark secret. At last in Italy, Biddy becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, knowing the secrets she holds could be a key to a better life, or her downfall.

Inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes and set at the time of the invention of the first restaurants, An Appetite for Violets is a literary feast for lovers of historical fiction. Martine Bailey's novel opens a window into the fascinating lives of servants, while also delivering a suspenseful tale of obsession and betrayal.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

An amateur cook, MARTINE BAILEY won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. Her recipes have appeared in many publications including Good Housekeeping, Olive magazine, and Green and Black's Chocolate Recipes. Martine lives in Cheshire, England. An Appetite for Violets is her first novel.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Set in the 1770s, Bailey's first novel centers on Biddy Leigh, undercook at Mawton Hall in Cheshire, England. When Biddy is made to join the handful of servants accompanying the master's new young wife, Lady Carinna, on a sudden trip to Italy, she carries with her the household recipe book in which to record her encounters with continental cuisine. In addition to sampling delicacies and learning new cookery techniques, Biddy finds herself entangled in Carinna's secrets and swept up in a murderous plot involving a jewel known as the Mawton Rose. She also falls in love with an Italian chef. Much of the novel unfolds in the form of entries in Biddy's journal, each headed by an authentic recipe ("a brandy possett," "farcemeat pudding"). Other chapters are presented from the point of view of Loveday, a slave who serves as footman and dreams of returning to his home in the East Indies. Though the novel seems to have too many ingredients, everything is kneaded together at the end. This is a delectable dish that will appeal to readers with a taste for historical mysteries as well as fiction about food. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

Biddy Leigh, a poor fatherless cottager, has reached the pinnacle of happiness in life as undercook at Mawton Hall with marriage to the handsome Jem in her future, but her plans go awry with the unexpected arrival of Lady Carinna, the absent old master's very young, very demanding new wife. Not only is Lady Carinna impetuous and imperious, she is also abruptly seized with a sudden desire to travel to her uncle's estate in Italy and insists on Biddy's accompanying her, plunging that unflappable young lady into mysteries and adventures that challenge her to the utmost of her considerably resourceful nature. As we follow Biddy and her companions on their continental travels, we are treated to her gastronomic journal filled with sensual and revealing details. VERDICT Debut novelist (and award-winning amateur cook) Bailey whips up a tasty confection of history, mystery, and intrigue. Fans of such 18th-century writers as James Boswell, Tobias Smollett, Henry Fielding, and Samuel Richardson will savor this delicious read. [See Prepub Alert, 7/21/14.]—Cynthia Johnson, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA

[Page 87]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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