18 Oct Good Taste by Caroline Scott
A delicious smorgasbord of passion, ambition and love in the English countryside
A story that takes us back to England in 1931, best-selling author Caroline Scott’s latest novel, Good Taste, opens in Hatherstall, Yorkshire where a food columnist and biographer of at least one famous cook has returned to care for her widowed father.
Stella Douglas misses London, of course, but she can write from anywhere and already has plans for her next biography on female UK cooks when she is summoned to her editor’s office and given a new commission to write a book called How The English Eat.
And so begins a project that takes Stella on a journey around England in search of authentic recipes passed down through the generations.
But it’s also a journey of self-discovery on a twisting, turning path as Stella encounters people who influence her thinking and actions, sometimes not always in the best ways …
This is a story with so many facets, exploring grief, love, ambition, self-sacrifice, passion, and integrity.
Already grieving for her beloved mother, Stella faces fresh loss when her best friend Michael gets engaged to socialite Cynthia.
Will antique dealer and knight-in-shining-armour Freddie Langham provide much-needed solace? Friendly, amusing and deeply interested in her writing, she finds it hard to resist his charms, and his suggestions for what might help her book to sell.
But this could turn out to be a recipe for disaster …
I loved everything about this story!
If writing about food gives you an appetite, as Stella says, then reading about it from the pen of such a good author certainly whets your senses, not just of taste, but of sight, sound, smell and touch as you soak up the atmosphere of 1930s England. Whether in the smoky, small towns of Yorkshire or the elegant drawing-rooms of London’s socialite set, you’re drawn into the moment, enjoying the wit, the warmth and the authenticity of the characters.
This author has such a way with words, conjuring up a scene with just a phrase. When she tells you Stella’s small cottage is haunted by the ghosts of unwashed old men, you immediately see the small rooms with damp wallpaper, faded floral chairs, smoke-scented rugs and dim lighting.
Stella sits at the centre of it all, a wonderful character, honest and perceptive, caring towards her friends and family, willing to make sacrifices for others, but keenly aware of her own needs, and determined not to lose sight of her ambitions to become a best-selling author.
Michael, his flatmate Lucien, Stella’s father, her neighbour Dilys, Cynthia, Freddie and all the others we meet through the story add to the rich hotchpotch with sweetness, spice and the occasional bitterness.
Also adding to the interest to the pages are the notes and letters of ordinary people around the country sharing their recipes and anecdotes with Stella for her book. Oatcakes, stew, Bath buns, jellied eels – they’re all here as it becomes apparent that traditional English cooking is plain fare, that “gravy runs in our veins” and that if it weren’t for foreign influence over the centuries, we might none of us have developed “good taste”.
But the cleverness of the book’s title doesn’t just refer to our physical senses of course.
Led into temptation to embroider and fabricate the pages of her book, Stella must stop and take stock of what is acceptable and what is not. She must examine her own values and those of the people she meets in a world where hardship is beginning to bite, social values are changing and the faint whispers of war are stirring, just a few years after the end of the last one.
Will she find the strength to be true to herself? And will she find the fame, fortune and happiness she so desperately craves?
This is a super story, definitely worth its full five stars.
Good Taste by Caroline Scott is published by Simon & Schuster in paperback and ebook
About the Author
Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company. Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. The Photographer of the Lost was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to publishers Simon & Schuster for the copy of the book.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster