Martine's historical crime debut An Appetite for Violets is the tale of sharp-witted cook, Biddy Leigh, taken on a mysterious journey to Italy. Unwittingly swept up into a world of scheming, secrets, and lies she documents her adventures in an old household book of recipes. When she finds herself embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, Biddy realises that the secrets she holds could be the key to her survival – or her downfall . . .
Inspired by historic 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 writes with such easy, compelling grace, and in a fascinating new genre – best described as Culinary Gothic. I was hooked and enraptured.'
The Penny Heart continues Martine's exploration of culinary crime, in a dark tale of two very different women entangled by love and revenge. Sentenced to death for a simple confidence trick, Mary Jebb escapes the gallows...but her reprieve is harsh: transportation to 'the ends of the earth'. Yet Mary is determined not to be forgotten, sending two pennies engraved with a sinister promise, to the two men who sealed her fate. But when timid new wife Grace Moore takes on a new cook, the penny heart love tokens reveal she is tied to a world she didn't know existed...A world of deceit, double-crossing, and murder.
A historical novel of suspense, seasoned with recipes and remedies, The Penny Heart draws on age-old themes of cooking, trickery and revenge.
IN THE PRESS - The Penny Heart
(Titled A Taste for Nightshade in the US)
'Intelligent and engrossing reading. The Penny Heart is a cleverly convoluted tale... An ingenious exercise in gothic pastiche, this is a richly rewarding read.'
(THE SUNDAY TIMES, BEST SUMMER READS)
'The Penny Heart is a compelling and haunting story, brimming with malice and darkness, and powerfully alive to the harsh realities of 18th century life, but it also an invigorating account of the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of terrible hardship.'
(THE LANCASHIRE EVENING POST)
'Following an excellent debut must be tough - but Bailey has made it look easy with this polished, sophisticated work. From the first page, I sensed this novel was going to be even better than her first and my confidence was not misplaced. '
(THE BOOKBAG.CO.UK, TOP TEN HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS 2015)
'With this entertaining and engrossing tale, Bailey proves herself to be an author to watch.'
(LIBRARY JOURNAL STARRED REVIEW)
'I really can't recommend this novel highly enough. I loved it from start to finish.'
(SD Sykes, author of PLAGUE LAND)
'An exciting novel in the Gothic tradition. When Grace marries, she's manipulted into employing Mary as a cook - and her life starts to unravel...'
(THE LADY MAGAZINE)
'There is much to admire in this sprawling tale of lies, secrets and puddings. Bailey's prose sparkles...delicious.'
' It all comes down to a thrilling battle of wits and nerve – I literally could not put the book down for the last quarter!'
(Laura Purcell, author of THE QUEEN OF BEDLAM)
'The mystery, at the heart of the novel is complex, both dark and deliciously dirty in places and just so wonderfully contrived and maintained that I really was kept guessing throughout the whole of the story.'
'Plenty of colour, romance, intrigue, and deception.'
Bailey has created such vivid and believable characters that I felt entirely gripped by every strand of the story.
(Juliet West, author of BEFORE THE FALL)
I went from being gently guided along and thinking maybe really nothing much was happening, to whoah, hold on, I wasn't expecting this! I loved the book and felt quite bereft on finishing it.
PRAISE FOR An Appetite for Violets
'Irresistible. Full of mystery and intrigue, above and below stairs shenanigans and cookery.'
THE ARTS SHOW on BBC Radio 2
'A compelling story of food, obsession and mystery.'
'A charming debut and a genuinely original and insightful novel.'
'If you enjoyed Jo Baker's Longbourn you'll enjoy this. It's another beautifully written 18th century servant story...An impressive debut.'
THE DAILY MAIL
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.
(S D Sykes, author of PLAGUE LAND)
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.
(Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of THE QUEEN'S GOVERNESS)
A delectable dish that will appeal to readers with a taste for historical mysteries as well as fiction about food.
(BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW, TOP TEN CRIME DEBUT 2015)
Debut novelist and (and award winning amateur cook) Bailey whips up a tasty confection of history, mystery and intrigue. (LIBRARY JOURNAL STARRED REVIEW)
Part social history, part exploration of 18th century cuisine and part action-packed, dark-edged mystery, this is probably the most delicious - and inventive - story you will read this year.'
(THE LANCASHIRE EVENING POST)
'I adored this novel: a delicious addictive mix of confectionery, skulduggery and crime.' (Maria McCann, bestselling author of AS MEAT LOVES SALT and THE WILDING)
A paperback edition of The Penny Heart will be published in the UK by Hodder Books in July 2016. Here is an exclusive reveal of the darkly intriguing cover.
The American Library Association's Booklist picked An Appetite for Violets as one of The Year's Best Crime Fiction Debuts
Another great pick was the Bookbag.co.uk which chose The Penny Heart as one of its Top Ten Historical Fiction Books of 2015. Thank you!
A Croatian edition of The Penny Heart has just been published by Mozaik publishers in Zagreb, Croatia
Are you in a reading group? New Reading Group questions now on this site
An Appetite for Violets is a Recommended Read at Erddig Hall's National Trust book shop.
Exploring The Georgian Table
I am delighted to be speaking at a culinary event, Exploring The Georgian Table, at The Green Howard's Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire, on 2 September 2016. Working with Executive Chef Gareth Bottomley and the staff of the Museum, we are planning a Georgian dinner featuring a 'whet' and Taffety Tart from An Appetite for Violets - and much more!
Tickets are selling fast and can be found on The Green Howards web site
It was a huge and happy surprise that The Penny Heart was picked as a Sunday Times Summer Read. Click to read the opening here.