‘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. It’s not so very often, with your servants’ broken view, that you can draw all the ingredients together. And it’s a rare day when all the parts combine in one story, and the chief of those parts is you.’
Europe, 1773. Sharp-witted cook Biddy Leigh is reluctantly persuaded to leave England by her master’s untrustworthy young wife, Lady Carinna. Having promised to write down her adventures in her book of recipes, The Cook’s Jewel, Biddy grows intrigued by her fellow travellers’ secrets. In France she discovers her mistress is fleeing England because she is expecting a child that is not her poxed husband’s. As Carinna draws Biddy into her increasingly desperate scheming, she finds herself embroiled in a murderous conspiracy – and suddenly the secrets Biddy holds could be her ticket to a better life – or her downfall…
About Martine Bailey and the writing of An Appetite for Violets
The book follows cook Biddy Leigh as she travels across 18th Century Europe, spending time in France and Italy. It was inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes, and the writing is interspersed with recipes from the time. Writing An Appetite for Violets 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.