#BookReview By Lou -The Language of Food By Annabel Abbs @AnnabelAbbs @simonschusterUK #TheLanguageOfFood @BookMinxSJV

The Language of Food
By Annabel Abbs

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Language of Food is fiction based on fact. It takes reader into the life of a little known woman, by many, called Eliza Acton. She changed the course of cookery forever and when today’s cooks come across her, they are inspired by her story and style. Annabel Abbs has now opened her life up so that everyone can know the achievements and hardships and good times of her. Discover more in the blurb and my review. I also thank Simon and Schuster for gifting me a copy of the book.

The Language of Food pic

Blurb

The Language of Food picEngland 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them

Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-crippled father and a mother with dementia. 

Over the course of ten years, Eliza and Ann developed an unusual friendship – one that crossed social classes and divides – and, together, they broke the mould of traditional cookbooks and changed the course of cookery writing forever. 

Eliza Acton, despite having never before boiled an egg, became one of the world’s most successful cookery writers, revolutionizing cooking and cookbooks around the world. Her story is fascinating, uplifting and truly inspiring.

The Language of Food pic

                                              The Language of Food pic

Review

The Language of Food may make you hungry, it may make you feel warm and cosy and it may show you something you perhaps did not know before.

This is a fictional book, but features a real person from history – Eliza Acton. She was a cookery writer who lived between 1799-1859 and got a blue plaque. I love and appreciate food and cookery, but I had never heard of her before, perhaps because, as the book says, so little was known about her, but this book weaves into her life, what was known about her. More well-known cooks of this more modern era, such as Delia Smith and others, have been influenced by her. Eliza’s books were bestsellers, selling vast amounts of copies at the time.

Each chapter is nicely designed in the way they are written and titled – using food related terms or actual food. The book also goes between Ann and Eliza to tell their life stories. It begins with Ann and Mr Whitmarsh, who has given her a present. Immediately, Mr Whitmarsh brings energy that runs through the opening chapter, but also one of intrigue at a certain reaction to the more well-known – Mrs Beaton…

The book then goes to Eliza, on her way to a publisher, hoping to publish some more poetry. The publisher then sees an opportunity for a cookery book. The book shows how things were at a certain time in people’s views and at the same time, therefore also shows how things have moved on as time has passed and views have differed and what is realised about women’s talents, that were overlooked and not taken seriously before, as she argues the point of how poetry was good enough for great male stalwarts of this type of writing, but perhaps not women. There is also a level of perspective within Ann’s world, where she isn’t pleased at this finding, but Mr Whitmarsh soon shows a bit of reality within his cooking world.

The book has a sense of movement in time and is, in some respects, the writing is poetic, something perhaps Eliza Acton may have appreciated…. perhaps… It also shows her determination, ambition and almost fearlessness to do things how she wants to, which then drove a change in the way cookery books were and are written.

It isn’t as simple as that. Eliza has to think about food in a more focussed way to give her publishers a cookery book, but with one tiny problem… she has never even boiled an egg before, which makes you wonder how on earth she can write a cookery book and the sort that her publishers would want to show the world and sell. So, she learns and gets inspired by food and what Jack has told her. Eliza, against the odds, begins to add unexpected ingredients for Britain at that time.

The food and how it was cooked, all blended into the story, unfolds in a way that educates in how food was prepared and also feeds the senses terribly well and absorbs into the mind, wanting to soak up and consume every word. Given that there, as readers are informed at the beginning, that there is little known about Eliza Acton, I can’t help but think that this book is respectfully done. There’s a certain sense, especially as it captures the times and then hones in on the food and brings a believability to it and shows how cuisine was then and how Eliza started to change it, and also learnt from other cooks. The book demonstrates a whole foody web of connections and sparks of inspiration gained from others, even if not always in-person, but in their cookery books.

As well as all the food that leaps from the page, there, intertwined is also other parts of her life, because people have more than one interest and more than one thing going on in their lives. There are the friendships forged, even when some may seem unlikely, but showing that sometimes, they can be great friendships. There are also health challenges and how they were seen at the time.

There is also great insight into the characters lives, and the places featured, lots that are real, including a mental health asylum. Those that feature a lot in the book have a very interesting note at the end of the book, which gives even greater context and interest and attention to detail.

As a book as a whole, it’s a good introduction to Eliza Acton, who will, I am sure be a bit better known than she perhaps used to be, and is interesting as well as being humorous with lots of food within it and snippets of her and Ann’s lives throughout, creating a believable story, that then picques interest to do a small amount of looking around for Eliza Acton, something I often find myself doing after a biopic or a fictional story based on a real person’s life, if it interests me enough.

About the Author

Annabel Abbs is the new rising star of biographical historical novels. She grew up in Bristol, Sussex and Wales before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia and Marketing at the University of Kingston. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl was a Guardian Reader’s Pick and her second novel Frieda: The Original Lady Chatterley earned critical acclaim including Times 2018 Book of the Year. She regularly appears on national and regional media, with recent appearances on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and Sky News, and is popular on the literary festival circuit. She was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton GoodRead Award. Annabel lives in London with her husband and four children.

 

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#BookReview By Lou – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures By Holly Hepburn @HollyH_Author @TeamBATC @harriet_col #simonschusterUK #TheLittleShopOfHiddenTreasures

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures
By Holly Hepburn

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Today I am excited to present my review of The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures. It has layers of history, romance, poignancy and chips away at you to make you curious amongst the cosyness.
Check out the blurb and my full review below. Thanks to Simon and Schuster for gifting me a physical copy of The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures and for inviting me onto the blog tour.

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures cover pic

Blurb

**The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Katie Fforde.**
Originally published in four parts this is the full story in one package. 

When Hope loses her husband, she fears her happiest days are behind her. With her only connection to London broken, she moves home to York to be near her family and to begin to build a new life.  

Taking a job at the antique shop she has always admired, she finds herself crossing paths with two very different men. Will, who has recently become the guardian to his niece after the tragic death of her parents. And Ciaran, who she enlists to help solve the mystery of an Egyptian antique. Two men who represent two different happy endings.

But can she trust herself to choose the right man? And will that bring her everything she really needs?

The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, author of Coming Home to Brightwater Bay

Review

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures cover picHope Henderson is into antiques and needs a job. What can be more perfect than a vacancy at The Ever After Emporium – Purveyors of Treasure Great and Small in York. Her love of antiques started at Portabello Market in London, but then she moved to York where she finds the antique shop founded in 1902 where the proprieter is James T. Young Esq. What makes it seem all the more perfect is the post is part-time and no experience is required.

Charlotte is Hope’s sister, grappling motherhood with her daughter, Amber who is of a young age that she keeps growing out of things, something many parents with toddlers (and older kids), will be able to relate to. 

There’s an interesting Egyptian puzzle box that belonged to Will’s mother in the emporium that piques at the curiousity of Hope and will readers alike. This is where the plot begins to thicken, now it’s already captured my attention by its relative cosyness, which I am sure many readers will be able to feel and be reeled in even further between the past and present, linked with a letter written around an exhibition to Egypt in the early 1920’s. This note, secretly hidden away, sends Hope on an adventure of investigative research into Tutenkhamun, Lord Canarvon and the exhibitions. So, although this is a fictional story, it does mention real people and real excavations. The author intertwines fact and fiction well and holds interest. This book, what with all the interest in the Canarvon Family due to the location of Downton Abbey, may then find you wanting to investigate these exhibitions yourself too and that’s where good writing comes in, to pique interest that much.

On-top of the mysterious letter and the history is also deep poignancy about grief. What is said is incredibly truthful and wise words indeed within this book that has certain interesting nuances within it.

There’s also quite the love story to follow through this book too that keeps you guessing what the ending is going to be and what choices are going to be made. There’s also some great humour with certain film references and more general humour, between Hope and her sister Charlotte, creating some great sisterly fun. There’s also some really heartwarming moments among other characters too.

This is ulitmately a lovely book that is heartwarming and a joy to read.

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures BTG (1)

 

#BookReview By Lou – The Collector’s Daughter By Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR @AvonBooks #HistoricalFiction #Egyptologists #Tutankhamun #5thEarlOfCanarvon #Fiction

The Collector’s Daughter
By Gill Paul

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Collector’s Daughter has a lot I didn’t expect and was better for it and oh so interesting as well as being a book I sailed through. I am absolutely delighted to finally have time from a busy period of time, to show you my review… Thanks to Avon Books for gifting this lovely book. Find more in the blurb and my review…

The Collector's Daughter

Blurb

From the internationally bestselling author comes a tale of long-buried secrets and a discovery that will change everything, perfect for fans of Dinah Jefferies and Lucinda Riley.

The Collector’s Daughter: A gripping and sweeping tale of unforgettable discoveries and unforgiveable secrets for 2021An unforgettable discovery
In 1922, Lady Evelyn Herbert’s dreams are realised when she is the first to set foot inside the lost tomb of Tutankhamun for over 3,000 years.
A cursed life
But the months after the discovery are marred by tragedy, when Eve’s father dies suddenly and her family is torn in two. Desperate to put the past behind her, Eve retreats into a private life with her new husband.
A deadly choice
But she is harbouring a dark secret about what really happened in Egypt. And when a young woman comes asking questions years later, the happiness Eve has finally found is threatened once more…

Review

The Collector’s Daughter takes readers to Egypt to follow in the footsteps of Lady Evelyn Herbert, as she takes the first steps into the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. It is absolutely fascinating to read about Eve and her discoveries and when she is older and how Dr. Ana Mansor takes up the mantle and how their path’s cross.

Luxor, 1919. Eve comes from a privileged family at Highclere. She is a daughter of Lord Carnarvon (George Herbert – 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who becomes an Egyptologist and funds the exploration of Tutankhamun’s tomb. 

Her mother has other plans. She wants Eve to get married and has to be a man of similar social standing. This isn’t Eve’s idea. For Eve there has to be more than this. She desires a man who will share a passion for travel and who will approve of her being an archeologist. It has been a passion of hers, after being inspired by her father, who encouraged her, to be part of digs. At 18 she arrives in Luxor, Valley of the Kings. There are some strange events as Tutenkhamun’s Tomb is discovered. 

London, 1972. Eve is in her early seventies and has had yet another stroke and is trying to regain her speech at a rehabilitation centre. The story of Egypt doesn’t stop here though. Dr. Ana Mansor is working on a research project and finding something odd about the archives with information about Tutankhamun’s tomb. Dr. Ana Mansor decides to visit Eve. It piques curiosity as to what this may be. It also gives a new energy and determination to Eve to improve her speech, but something feels odd. She has a secret that she is reluctant to reveal… It is so dark about what happened in Egypt…

This has depth and some of the characters are real, but are fictionalised. The book however piques interest to find out more about the exhibitions of Lord Canarvon. There’s a great plot, history, dark secrets to uncover; it’s an enthralling read. The research done with imagination is great and makes this better than I ever expected!

 

#BookReview – Looking for the Durrells By Melanie Hewitt @MelanieHewitt61 @HarperInspire #Fiction #Bookboost #LookingForTheDurrells

Looking for the Durrells
By Melanie Hewitt

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Today I am excited to reveal my review for Looking For the Durrells By Melanie Hewitt. The Durrell’s are fascinating and that tv drama was wonderfully done. This book takes you to Corfu as you meet Penny on her travels to find what remains from this family, mixing fact and fiction to create an absorbing book. Thanks to Melanie Hewitt for gifting me a signed copy of the book. Opinions are my own and not influenced by this.
Find out more in the blurb and my full review below.

Looking for the Durrells: A heartwarming, feel-good and uplifting novel bringing the Durrells back to life

Blurb

Looking For the Durrells 1Fiancés, friends, and other animals…

After a year that sees a broken-off engagement and the death of her beloved father, Penny is desperate to get away.

Fulfilling a childhood dream, she sets off on a month-long pilgrimage to Corfu – an island idyll she knows only through the pages of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.

On the island, Penny quickly finds herself drawn into the lives of a tight-knit circle of strangers. Exploring – searching for the places the Durrells knew decades before – she makes unexpected discoveries about the hopes, fears, and secrets of the people living there today.

And as strangers start to be friends, lives past and present become entwined in ways none of them could have predicted…

Review

Looking For the Durrells 2Penny is so enthused by The Durrells and has a passion for Gerald Durrell’s book – My Family and Other Animals, has read this and the whole trilogy So Many Times! Enthusiam and energy breaths through each page and there is suddenly, after a life event, adventure in the air and what an adventure she is going to have as she heads to Corfu on her own to discover more about the Durrells and Corfu and what it is like, what has changed or whether it even smells like it did in the 1930’s when the family were there. This is a sparky book and you can’t help but feel the energy and curiosity encapsulating, wrapping round like a hug as there’s such warmth.

When she arrives in Corfu you start to get a sense of the place, including the apartment and its surrounding area. There are quite a few people to meet, a few familiar names (familiar if you’ve read Gerald’s stories or watched the recent drama – The Durrells, or indeed know the families), such as the Ioannidis family, Spiro, Tess and Theo Stephanides – 3 people, 3 generations. There are people who Eve meets who knew the Durrell’s family friend, Spiro Americano. It’s an interesting and yet nice touch that the author has decided to use this as well as the fact he was also known by Spiro Halikiopoulos. There’s also an interesting revelation there that takes this family right up to present day with an amusing anecdote.

As well as discovering The Durrells (as well as a little snippet of what happened to them) and what survives of when they lived in Corfu, Penny is also discovering whether its a place she wants to be to start a new life. She meets many people, including Nicolas Constantine (Nic), a professor of marine biology and Dimitris.

Penny really embraces the Durrells, even donning the types of clothes Margo would have worn and what draws her to not just the Durrells as a whole family, but Margo, inparticular.
There are also travels to discover the family’s first and last houses they lived in whilst in Corfu. As well as looking around the island discovering what it holds, there is also room for romance and to uncover some of the secrets some of its present day residents keep. The connections to the island and how people are connected adds to the life of Corfu. The book is very much in the present, with references back to the Durrell’s and Corfu’s past. It is all rather a lovely, uplifting, cosy story.

Melanie Hewitt really draws you into this adventure and into the sights, temperatures, aromas, atmosphere and sounds of Corfu. It isn’t about the Durrells in the way a non-fiction book would document their lives or like the books that they wrote, it is very much a story in its own right and is akin to being on holiday on a tour finding out the places they went to and the people. It also, in a way, makes me think of travel programmes where the presenter meets others who know an area and meet people, since Penny gets lucky to meet people who knew or has connections to The Durrells, so alongside Penny’s life and adventure is some fact about the family and the Greek island. This is actually quite nice and works well as it makes it a story of its own and puts a different slant on things that is really rather accessible for everyone and gives it a holiday vibe. I love that there has been correspondence between Melanie Hewitt and Lee Durrell – Gerald Durrell’s wife and the book has been shared with her. This, I find very respectful and makes the book alright to come into being, by my reckoning, since it includes mentions of her family. It makes it a more comfortable, relaxing and enjoyable read than it may well have done otherwise.

 

Lou Presents an #Extract of The Farmhouse – A Southern Gothic Ghost Tale By L.B. Stimpson  @zooloo2008 @stimsonink @QuestionPress #TheFarmhouseOfPeaceandPlenty

Today on day 1 of this blog tour, I present an extract from The Farmhouse by L.B. Stimpson. Thanks to the author for providing the extract and Zooloo Blogtours for inviting me onto this.
Follow onto the Blurb and Extract and take a peek at a bit of this interesting, evocative, atmospheric book, that may well have your spines tingling, to see who lives in a house like this – an ageing, spooky farmhouse that just may put you in the mood early for Halloween!

The Farmhouse Book Cover

Blurb

The house, for all of its solitude, seemed incredibly noisy

The Farmhouse, having stood against time and history for nearly 160 years in the Virginia countryside, was forgotten and abandoned until Kyle and Jenny Dowling moved in during the summer of 1972.

The Dowlings, married just a year, were struggling to repair their broken marriage. It was to be the perfect place, away from it all, to heal their relationship. Jenny would write and Kyle would tend to minor renovations. The rent was cheap.

The realtor warned them, however, against staying beyond the final days of fall.

Extract

Late Spring 1972

Jenny Dowling bit her lower lip in a failed attempt to keep her opinion to herself. She had promised her husband she would keep an open mind, but she didn’t expect the house to be so dilapidated. She swallowed her doubt and concern as they traveled down the gravel road, it was so worn and lonely and if she had to admit, the surrounding fields appeared frozen in time and she and Kyle were emerging through a portal, far from modern society, disturbing the past. Haunted. Yes, haunted was the perfect description. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the past, when wagons rolled and seclusion was necessary for survival at times.

“Oh, Kyle, you can’t be serious,” she finally blurted out as her eyes wandered along the overgrown driveway beyond the padlocked cattle guard gate which appeared to be holding in the decay spilling forth from the broken windows lining the front of the house. Empty, hollow eyes. Oh, he can’t be serious, but yet, he was.

Kyle reached over and grasped his wife’s hand. “Look, I know it doesn’t, well it might not be the secluded getaway you said you wanted, but it has some charm and it’s cheap and near enough to the city if I need to get back to the university, but I doubt that anyone will be calling. Besides, it has electricity and the realtor said she would cut us a break on the rent if we fixed up a few things.”

Jenny pulled her hand away and cranked open the window. The air was still. It was as though it was holding its breath lest a breeze break through the last shards of broken windows protecting the house against the elements. The house, this house, was exactly what Kyle had always wanted. Of course he would have chosen such a place–lonely and secluded.

The Farmhouse Book Tour Poster

Lou Presents an #Extract of The Seamstress of Warsaw By Rebecca Mascull @zooloo2008 @rebeccamascull @SpellBoundBks #HistoricalFiction #BlogTour

Today I am kicking off the blog tour with an extract/excerpt of The Seamstress of Warsaw By Rebecca Mascull to whet your appetite and draw you in….
This is the latest book from the author who has also brought you – The Ironbridge Daughter and many more… You can find out more about her below…
Thanks to the publisher company lSpellbound Books for providing the extract/excerpt of the book.The Seamstress of Warsaw

Extract/Excerpt

WINTER 1920

He said to wear her best dress, the one with the poppies. Whatever could it be for? Perhaps they were going for lunch. That would be a miracle in the midst of these dark days, when he came home from his long walks with empty pockets and the scent of hard drink, without a word or even a smile. But she hoped for the miracle all the same. He waited by the door, shifting from foot to foot.

“Come on! Come on!” he laughed and took her hand. It was the first time he’d laughed in weeks.

They walked arm in arm down their street. Slowly, on dense snow. They turned one corner, crossed the road and stopped. There was a shop, in the window photographs of a baby, a young couple, a soldier.

“Darling, I‘ve decided to enlist.”

“No,” she said. “No!”

“I’m going away tomorrow.”

“Don’t leave me,” she said.

“Here. I want a photograph of you to take with me.”

He opened the shop door to an anteroom. The owner came through and she watched as they made arrangements. Her lover turned back to her and kissed her cheek, his touch like paper. She was led through to a small studio, shrouded in heavy curtains, a chair centrally placed. The photographer had a kindly face. He asked her to sit down. Her lover stood behind the camera, grinning.

“My Helena is a beauty, isn’t she? I want a close-up, just her face. Those eyes. One day, I will write a sonnet about them.”

She might be able to stop the tears coming, if she pressed her nails hard into her palms. Harder.

The photographer said, “A little smile, my dear?”

She was thinking of their room, how tiny it was, cluttered and dirty. How vast it would be tomorrow, when he had gone. His stories, his dreams, his plans for them: only now could she see them clearly for what they were. A handful of thistledown.

She heard them talking of the photograph, ready next week. She was to pick it up and pay. With what? Where would she find the money for milk, for bread?

At the door, he hugged her roughly.

“When the Russians are gone, I’ll come home to you. And one day, I will write an epic poem about it.”

They stepped out and stood a moment in the cold.

He said, “You must send the photograph on to me.”

He kissed her. Warm against the icy air. A taste of vodka.

“Where will you be?”

“I don’t know yet. As soon as I’m settled, I’ll write to you.”

They walked on through the snow. The east wind wailed through Warsaw.

About The Author

Rebecca Mascull Author PhotoRebecca Mascull is an author of historical novels. She also writes saga fiction under the pen-name of Mollie Walton.

Rebecca’s latest book under the Mascull name is coming on September 18th 2021, THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW, the powerful tale of two people unknowingly connected to each other, caught up in the whirlwind of World War II, whose perilous journeys we follow from the Blitz to the Warsaw Ghetto and beyond, published by SpellBound.

Mollie Walton’s The Ironbridge Saga series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE (2019). The second book in the trilogy is THE SECRETS OF IRONBRIDGE (2020), set in the brickyards of the 1850s. The third book is set in the coalmines and servants’ quarters of the 1870s: THE ORPHAN OF IRONBRIDGE (2021). All three are published by Bonnier Zaffre. Mollie’s next trilogy will be set in WW2 North Yorkshire and the first book of this saga will be out in March 2022, published by Welbeck.

Her first novel as Rebecca Mascull, THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

She also completed the finishing chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye’s final work, a novella called MISS MARLEY, a prequel to Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This novella is published by HarperCollins.

Rebecca has worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, based at the University of Lincoln.

Follow her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaMascull/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beccamascull/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebeccamascull

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