Synopses & Reviews
“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 Cooks 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.
“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)
"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
“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
“It's not often that I read a book as voraciously as this. The last was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, 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
About 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 Blacks Chocolate Recipes. Martine lives in Cheshire, England. An Appetite for Violets is her first novel.