Summary and book reviews of An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey

An Appetite for Violets

A Novel

by Martine Bailey

An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey X
An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jan 2015, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

"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.

Excerpt
An Appetite For Violets

As Kitt tramped on alone towards the villa, unease clung to him like the rancid sweat that soaked his shirt. He was weak-headed, sure enough, after five days of throwing up across the heaving boat rail. At Leghorn, his port of arrival in Italy, he had disdained the other English disembarking from the boat. They had jostled and jawed in gaudy Paris costumes, their ruddy faces peering into Mr Nugent's Grand Tour. While they dawdled over vast portmanteaus he had sauntered onwards with only a saddlebag slapping his hips. He was a hunter, not a tourist, Kitt told himself. He was here to find Carinna, not follow some vulgar Itinerary.

He had hired the first unshaven ruffian who grasped his sleeve and offered himself as a guide. Later, he regretted his impulse: at Lucca the rogue had urged him to enter a squalid inn to meet his purported bellisima sister. By then Kitt understood he was very far from his usual Covent Garden haunts. No doubt a ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Can there be anything more fetching to a mystery loving foodie who also enjoys historical fiction than the delicious tale of two women – one a lady, the other a servant – up to some very unsavory doings? No. And Martine Bailey’s debut delivers just that – a tale about Obedience (Biddy) Leigh, a young Eighteenth Century British undercook and the Lady Carinna, Mistress of Mawton Hall.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (885 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

Booklist

Starred Review. 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.

The Daily Mail (UK)

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.

Author Blurb Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen's Governess
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.

Author Blurb Fay Weldon, author of Long Live the King
Martine Bailey writes with such easy, compelling grace, and in a fascinating new genre – best described as culinary gothic. I was hooked and enraptured.

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

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Oh Restaurant, From Whence Thou?

Thermopolium in Pompeii While buying ready prepared food outside the home has been an intrinsic part of urban culture in Europe from the earliest of days (as can be seen by the many thermopoliums in Pompeii), in the modern era, in general the upper classes, especially the women, would not have chosen to eat a meal outside of a private home - except in the direst circumstances, such as extended travel. They looked upon food that was prepared elsewhere with distrust, even disdain. With no overarching standards or regulations, they felt there was no way of knowing whether such food was fresh, or that kitchens were clean, or even that the cook knew what s/he was doing.

Taverns, inns and boarding houses often served food, but this was secondary to their main ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked An Appetite for Violets, try these:

  • The Devil in the Marshalsea jacket

    The Devil in the Marshalsea

    by Antonia Hodgson

    Published 2014

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Thrilling new historical fiction starring a scoundrel with a heart of gold and set in the darkest debtors' prison in Georgian London, where people fall dead as quickly as they fall in love and no one is as they seem.

  • Madame Tussaud jacket

    Madame Tussaud

    by Michelle Moran

    Published 2011

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire... but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Wonder Valley
    by Ivy Pochoda

    A visionary and masterful portrait of contemporary L.A. from the author of Visitation Street.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.