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: 3.80 · 664 ratings · 219 reviews · 2 distinct works · Similar authors
An Appetite for Violets

3.77 avg rating — 600 ratings — published 2013 — 12 editions
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A Taste for Nightshade: A N...

4.06 avg rating — 63 ratings — published 2015 — 6 editions
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The Wedding Diaries: How To...

3.60 avg rating — 5 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 forRebeccaand the way Hitch used food to drive his... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on January 26, 2016 14:46 • 10 views

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My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
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A Taste for Nightshade by Martine Bailey
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An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
"Well, I was constructing a mostly negative review in my head until I reached about the mid-way point of the book. I do think that the author sometimes gave way to her desire just to put as much of her historical research into the book as possible,..." Read more of this review »
An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
"Really enjoyed this book. If you are a cook, you will love the book, since each chapter begins with a recipe. Biddy is an undercook, just one of a staff of servants of a wealthy man, but when his wife (most decidedly not a love match) decides to t..." Read more of this review »
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The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
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I wasn't sure I would be able to find a screenwriting book better than Robert McKee's 'Story' but this is pretty close. Looking at structure and the basic outline of the archetypal story, my copy now has lots of scribbles all over it that I keep goin ...more
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“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

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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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