A charming debut and a genuinely original and insightful novel.
A deliciously inventive story . . . Biddy Leigh, our heroine, is one of the most engaging characters I've come across in a long time . . . AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS was inspired by recipe books from the 18th century which are matched with a love of food, history and travel. A perfect combination and, like Biddy's cooking, mixed in just such a way to meld together all the flavors creating a most delicious story.
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 such a distinctive voice
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.
An absolutely delicious novel; I savoured every page.
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.
Biddy has to be one of my favourite heroines to appear for a long time . . . I have never seen language so lightly and skillfully interwoven into a historical character . . . You do not have to be a foodie to love this book (although you will adore it if you are one!). Bailey's descriptions and Biddy's enthusiasm soon give you an appetite for a fascinating culinary world . . . It is a historical novel with mystery, crime, romance, comedy and gothic elements. Whilst parts of the story are dark, the book has an overall cheerful feel to it. It is easy to read and never feels cumbersome. I suppose at the end of the day, it is like one of Biddy's recipes. There are many ingredients, some of which you would hesitate to blend together, but when all is mixed and cooked, the finished dish is a triumph.
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.
I adored this novel: a delicious addictive mix of confectionery, skulduggery and crime, sprinkled with dark secrets and sauced with piquant comedy.
I really, really loved AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS and you caught Biddy's voice so beautifully I could hear her in my head. I read the proof while I was stuck on a few train journeys and I was racing through it while never wanting it to stop. The recipes, the voices, the places, the atmosphere and tension - it was all so high-coloured and vivid I felt it was playing out in front of my eyes. At points I even forgot I was on a FGW train . . . It's so accomplished and confident for a debut novel.
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.
Irresistible. Full of mystery and intrigue, above and below stairs shenanigans and cookery. Gastro-porn at its best.
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.
Martine Bailey writes with such easy, compelling grace, and in a fascinating new genre - best described as culinary gothic. I was hooked and enraptured.
The recipes [Bailey] includes throughout the book give her novel a wonderful flavour . . . Bailey has chosen her language cleverly, choosing foodie adjectives when possible to create a full sensory experience . . . AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS is part Gothic mystery melodrama, part romance, part social commentary, part history of cuisine.
There are mysteries to solve, secrets to uncover, plots to unravel . . . The story is both light and intriguing with twists and turns aplenty . . . It is a cleverly woven tale, yet for all the depth and detail the book remains an easy and enjoyable read. Just as the lightest of dishes can contain a host of complimentary tastes and textures, so this book offers up a complex, thought provoking story that is easily digested.