Martine Bailey

Goodreads Author

in Manchester, The United Kingdom



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

Member Since
January 2012


Martine is a keen reader who enjoys crime, mysteries and the gothic. Her debut, '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 creating a new genre, ‘culinary gothic’. ‘An Appetite for Violets’ was picked by the American Library Association’s Booklist as one of the year’s top ten crime fiction debuts.

‘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.

The stars, riddles and murder align in 'The Almanack', a mystery feat

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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 my…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: 3.73 · 1,972 ratings · 520 reviews · 5 distinct worksSimilar authors
An Appetite for Violets

3.71 avg rating — 1,273 ratings — published 2013 — 21 editions
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A Taste for Nightshade

3.79 avg rating — 490 ratings — published 2015 — 11 editions
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The Almanack

3.65 avg rating — 186 ratings — published 2019 — 8 editions
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The Prophet

4.29 avg rating — 17 ratings
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Prophet, The (A Tabitha Har...

3.80 avg rating — 5 ratings
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The Wedding Diaries: How to...

3.67 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 2007 — 2 editions
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More books by Martine Bailey…

My Book the Movie - The Prophet

Picture Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility ​
​My fourth novel is a historical crime novel in which Tabitha Hart investigates a cold-blooded murder and a utopian sect in an ancient forest. The book follows on from events in The Almanack and also reads as a standalone mystery.
Cheshire. May Day, 1753. Tabitha De Vallory's perfect life is shaken when a girl is slaughtered beneath the Mondrem Oak on her family's Read more of this blog post »
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Published on May 12, 2021 08:52
Once Upon a River
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by Diane Setterfield (Goodreads Author)
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My Shitty Twenties
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" Fascinating. I've had the Sylvia Townsend Warner book on my TBR list for a while and you've prompted me to seek it out. Thanks. ...more "
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My Book the Movie - The Prophet

Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility ​​My fourth novel is a historical crime novel in which Tabitha Hart investigates a cold-blooded murder and a utopian Read more of this blog post »
" Unsettled Ground UK coverI’m absolutely delighted and thrilled that Unsettled Ground has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. The panel of five judges, chaired by Booker prize winner, Bernardine Evaristo whittled down the longli..." Read more of this blog post »
" The Little Mermaid meets the Prince - by Dulac Hans Christian Andersen was the Danish author of many classic fairy tales such as The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Little Match Girl, The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. Hans Christian ..." Read more of this blog post »
"I've picked out two very different books from the titles I read this month. First is Suzie Grogan's beautiful study of the poet Keats: John Keats: Poetry, Life and Landscapes. It's followed by Conn Iggulden's robust historical novel,Wars of the Ro..." Read more of this blog post »
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Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
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 track led into a sort of tunnel made of forest. They left daylight behind, a thousand leaves hemming them into dusky shade. As she traipsed behind Jack's torn blue jacket, he squinted into the foliage, hearkening to every cracking twig or bird-chirrup. After what seemed an age, they came out into blessed sunshine again. They were in a clearing, their ears filled with a thundering wind, the air itself trembling. A few paces further they came upon the source: above them, a waterfall tumbled from a clifftop as high as a church steeple. The water fell in milky blue strands, shooting spray in the air that danced in rainbows of gold, pink and blue. At their feet was a deep and inviting lagoon. It fair took her breath away.
Jack crouched to look at the pool's edge, where a mud bank was scrabbled with marks.
"We should go back," he said. "Something drinks here."
She didn't care. She was spellbound. "Look, a cave!" Across the lagoon stood a dark entrance hung with pretty mosses, like a fairy grotto.
"Just one peep," she whispered, for there was something powerful and secret about the place. "Then we can go back."
But Jack was still peering at the tracks around the water's edge.
"Whatever drinks here, it's not here now. I dare you, Jack. A quick look around the cave and then we'll be on our way." She had a notion, from some story or other, that caves were places where treasure was hidden; she reckoned pirates might have left jewels and plunder behind long ago.
"It's the end of the rainbow," she laughed. "Let's find our crock of gold.”
Martine Bailey, A Taste for Nightshade

“Next morning I had to get outside, and so began a period of long walks in the park. Early November continued bright, with the last sun of the year shining low and coppery over the woods. Striding through heaps of rusty autumn leaves, I ached to see beauty dying all around me. I felt completely alone in that rambling wilderness, save for the crows cawing in their rookeries and the wrens bobbing from hedge to hedge. I began to make studies in my book of the delicate lines of drying grasses and frilled seed pods. I looked for some lesson on how best to live from Nature, that every year died and was renewed, but none appeared.”
Martine Bailey, A Taste for Nightshade

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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

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

“A man may meet a woman and be shocked by her ugliness. Soon, if she is natural and unaffected, her expression makes him overlook the faults of her features. He begins to find her charming, it enters his head that she might be loved, and a week later he is living in hope. The following week he has been snubbed into despair, and the week afterwards he has gone mad. (Chapter 17)”
Stendhal, Love

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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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