Martine Bailey

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Martine Bailey

Goodreads Author

in The United Kingdom



Daphne du Maurier, Mary Renault, Sarah Waters, the North of England, H ...more

Member Since
January 2012


A keen reader, amateur cook and historical novelist, Martine Bailey was inspired to write her debut by a book of eighteenth-century recipes. 'An Appetite for Violets' takes sharp-witted cook Biddy Leigh on a murderous trip to Italy. Its mix of crime, gastronomy and social history was described by Fay Weldon as a new genre, ‘culinary gothic’. ‘An Appetite for Violets’ was picked by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the top ten crime fiction debuts of 2015.

‘A Taste for Nightshade/The Penny Heart’ is a dark novel of suspense that draws on age-old themes of cooking, trickery and revenge. Inspired by Martine’s 20-month stay in New Zealand and Australia it depicts a world of deceit, double-crossing and revenge.

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Martine Bailey Thank you so much for your comments about the book and I’m so glad you picked up on my love of cooking. I have always enjoyed baking, having taught…moreThank you so much for your comments about the book and I’m so glad you picked up on my love of cooking. I have always enjoyed baking, having taught myself from books when I was younger. I really started baking to save money and feed my son, by making local English specialities like Bakewell Tart, biscuits and cakes. Then I became fascinated by foreign food when I had more money to travel and eventually entered a Merchant Gourmet contest with a Spanish dish for A Smoky Asturian Stew. I won it and the prize was a French cookery course in Provence. So one thing led to another and I became fascinated with French food and then historical food. My inspiration to write An Appetite for Violets started with a collection of historic recipes at a local country house and thinking about how the cook might have felt if she’d been sent to some far-flung foreign places! Thanks to TV food historian Ivan Day I’ve learned a great deal about historic cookery, using forgotten techniques and attempting the truly amazing sugarwork skills that confectioners like Renzo developed in the 18th century. Of course I don’t make extraordinary food all that often, but I do love to bake and I’m a keen member of the which has groups all around the world.
I’ve just been putting the final touches to a second book, The Penny Heart, a darker tale set in England, Australia and New Zealand in the 1790s, about a mistress and a sinister cook. It will be published in the UK in May 2015 and at some later date in the US. But I’m keen to start another novel soon, set in an English village and of course get down to some research.
Martine Bailey An historical writer must love research - and I do! Learning about how cooks prepared food in the past has been a fascinating area. First I looked at…moreAn historical writer must love research - and I do! Learning about how cooks prepared food in the past has been a fascinating area. First I looked at how ordinary folk cooked, boiling and frying over a fire, boiling puddings in a cloth in a cauldron, for example, and dangling food like bacon on a string to fry crisply.
Later I studied how the top chefs and confectioners worked, creating the most extraordinary sugarwork such as edible tableware, silver webs and vast palaces and temples made of sugar.
It has been a privilege to learn about such talented people from their handwritten recipes, many of them passed down the generations. (less)
Average rating: 3.74 · 1,357 ratings · 349 reviews · 2 distinct worksSimilar authors
An Appetite for Violets

3.72 avg rating — 1,003 ratings — published 2013 — 14 editions
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A Taste for Nightshade

3.79 avg rating — 353 ratings — published 2015 — 7 editions
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The Wedding Diaries: How to...

3.88 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2007 — 2 editions
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* Note: these are all the books on Goodreads for this author. To add more, click here.

To celebrate the launch of A Taste for Nightshade I was invited by 'My Book the Movie'  blogspot to 'dreamcast' an adaptation of my novel. It doesn't mean it's actually going to be filmed - I just get the chance to imagine it:

Picture In my dream version I’d like to resurrect Alfred Hitchcock to direct my novel. I'm picturing the atmospheric sets he used for Rebecca and the way Hitch used food to drive... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on January 26, 2016 14:46 • 149 views

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Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
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Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell
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Crooked House by Agatha Christie
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A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen
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This is Tessa Arlen’s third outing to Edwardian England and I found it just as delightful as her first two titles. When a cook complains of her unfair dismissal to Mrs Jackson she triggers a series of events that take the housekeeper and her sleuthin ...more
A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen
"I loved the first two novels in Tessa Arlen’s Edwardian Murder Mystery series. Her third, which is based around a murder among a group of amateur rose breeders, certainly doesn’t disappoint. Like its predecessors, A DEATH BY ANY OTHER NAME has a t..." Read more of this review »
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The Faithful by Juliet West
The Faithful
by Juliet West (Goodreads Author)
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I was a huge admirer of Before The Fall, Juliet West’s powerful debut. Her new novel, The Faithful is just as fine an exploration of lives vividly rendered as they suffer joy, love and loss. Written in exquisite, economic prose, we follow the life of ...more
July 2017 Group Read

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The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull
The Wild Air
by Rebecca Mascull (Goodreads Author)
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Rebecca Mascull’s third novel continues her welcome exploration of extraordinary women who lift themselves above their ordinary situations. Quiet but steely Della Dobbs raises herself literally, by discovering her talent as one of Britain’s first fem ...more
"Events came at us thick and fast in Episode 1 of Season Two, The Last Kingdom, so I thought I would offer a few historical tidbits. GUTHRED: The 10th century History of St. Cuthbert says that a Dane named Guthred … Read More →"
More of Martine's books…
“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...”
Martine Bailey, An Appetite for Violets

“The whole roaring crowd was gathered in the long room to give my boar's head fulsome applause when it was carried aloft on a platter. And my goodness, those old folk's eyes were as round as marbles when they saw the tables piled as high as Balthazar's Feast. Plum pottage, minced pies, roast beef, turkey with sage and red wine sauce- and that were just the first course. I was mostly pleased with the second course, for alongside the tongues, brawn, collared eels, ducks and mutton I'd put some pretty snowballs made of apples iced in white sugar, all taken from a dish in Lady Maria's hand in 'The Cook's Jewel.”
Martine Bailey, An Appetite for Violets

“Around me shone the kitchen I'd worked in each day: the copper pans hung neatly, the scratched wooden table and neat blue plates set in rows on the dresser. I got up to rake out the cinders and suddenly clutched at the black stone of the hearth. How long was it since as a new girl I'd first spiked a fowl and set it to roast on that fire? What great sides of beef had we roasted on the smoke-jack, while bacon dangled on hooks, and meat juices basted puddings as light as eggy clouds? Never, in all my ten years at Mawton, had I let that fire die out. Every dawn, in winter or summer, I'd riddled the dying embers and set new kindling on the top. I touched the rough stone and let my cheek press on its everlasting warmth, wishing I could take that loyal fire with me. Foolish, I know, but a fire is a cook's truest friend. It was a good fire at Mawton: blackened with hundreds of years of smoking hot dinners.
I think no heathen ever worshipped fire like a cook. So I kissed the smutty hearth wall and packed instead my little tinderbox, to light new fires I knew not where.”
Martine Bailey, An Appetite for Violets

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“The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once, on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing into another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone, like ghosts at cockcrow.”
G. M. Trevelyan

“My definition of man is a cooking animal. The beasts have memory, judgement, and the faculties and passions of our minds in a certain degree; but no beast is a cook.”
James Boswell, The Journals, 1762-95

“Happiness is a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“So much imagination and hard thinking go into the making of every dish that one may well say I serve up along with it my whole mind and heart.”
Yu An Mei 18th century gourmand

“I am no bird, no net ensnares me.”
Charlotte Brontë

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message 1: by Kim

Kim Thank you for the friendship request, Martine. I look forward to reading your reviews and discussing books (and cakes!) with you.

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