×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

An Appetite for Violets: A Novel
  • Alternative view 1 of An Appetite for Violets: A Novel
  • Alternative view 2 of An Appetite for Violets: A Novel
     

An Appetite for Violets: A Novel

4.0 4
by Martine Bailey
 

See All Formats & Editions


"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

Overview


"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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Set in the 1770s, Bailey's debut stars Biddy Leigh, undercook at Mawton Hall in Cheshire, England, who accompanies the master's wife on a trip to Italy, where she falls in love with a chef and is thrown into a murder case. A delectable dish for foodies and the Downton Abbey crowd.” —Booklist, The Year's Best Crime Novels: 2015

“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.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“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 (UK)

“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.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Two things set Bailey's mystery apart, above the formulaic. First and foremost Biddy's voice feels (a couple hundred years hence) authentic. She is engaging, naïve and her assessment of her fellow travelers makes them credible. Food mysteries are nothing new, but Bailey has taken the genre to a whole untapped level with this historical approach. Secondly this is no standard whodunit. It is more a who-is-likely-to-do-it, how and when.” —Donna Chavez, BookBrowse.com

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

“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, author of Long Live the King

“I adored this novel: a delicious addictive mix of confectionery, skulduggery and crime, sprinkled with dark secrets and sauced with piquant comedy.” —Maria McCann, author of As Meat Loves Salt and The Wilding

“An absolutely delicious novel; I savoured every page.” —Imogen Robertson, author of Instruments of Darkness

“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 a such a distinctive voice.” —Sarah Vaughn, author of The Art of Baking Blind

“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

“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

Library Journal
★ 12/01/2014
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250056917
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/13/2015
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
577,375
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

An Appetite for Violets: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Biddy Leigh is a young woman who works as an undercook at Mawton Hall for the elderly Lord Geoffrey and his young new wife, Lady Carinna. She is content with her life and dreams of marrying Jem one day and together opening up a tavern where she can indulge her passion for cooking her cherished family recipes. When Lady Carinna decides to travel to Italy, Biddy is obliged to accompany her, along with the bitter lady's maid, the shady steward, and a captured slave owned by her mistress. The story is told through Biddy's point of view. This colorful cast of characters collide amid dangerous secrets, dark ambitions, and a touch of intriguing cultures and their cuisines. Not all is as it seems and the characters are ever evolving, and always surprising. The novels pages contain plenty of nice plot twists that kept me interested to the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! It's definitely a favourite of mine, appealing in every way. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never take the time to write reviews but Appetite for Violets is still on my mind, 4 days after finishing this fantastic tale of everything I crave in a book. I am never without a book to read and as soon as I finish one I already have another one at hand. The thing is, like most avid readers I am sure, we are continuosly in search of a book that moves us and takes us along for a new journey to discover characters we long to follow and want to know personally. To end the book feels like we must close the story on something we've come to love watching and unfolding. This is how Appetite for Violets affected me. I loved every thing about it. I am a huge historical reader and this author truely weaved a fantastic tale. I can only hope the author will continue to write. She has a wonderful style and a true talent for captivating an avid reader! Bravo! And Thank you! Mystery Wickedness Romantic Macabre Rare Recipes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful read. Biddy is fully developed in the novel at each stage of her life. Book is full of interesting characters and places twists and turns in the lives of all characters. Great description of places. Interesting recipies
Anonymous 3 months ago
Don't waste your time ormoney