Today dear reader I am on the blog tour for The Language of Food (Published 3rd February 2022 | Hardback) By Annabel Abbs. A big thank you to the publishers Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated. Also to the wonderful Anne for the invite to take part in the tour, always a delight to work with.
The Language of Food
Eliza Acton is a poet who’s never boiled an egg. But she’s about to break the mould of traditional cookbooks And change the course of cookery writing forever.
England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes a new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady.’ Instead, she’s asked to write a cookery book.
Eliza is horrified but her financial situation leaves her no choice. Although she’s never 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 daughter of local paupers. Over the next ten years, Eliza and Ann change the course of cookery writing forever.
Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, The Language of Food is the most thought-provoking and compelling historical novel you’ll read this year. Abbs explores the enduring struggle for female freedom, the complexities of friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, while bringing Eliza Acton out of the archives and back into the public eye.
About The Author
Annabel Abbs is the rising star of biographical historical novels. She grew up in Bristol, Sussex and Wales before studying English Literature at the University of East Anglia. Her debut novel The Joyce Girl won the Impress Prize and was a Guardian Reader’s Pick and her second novel Frieda: The Original Lady Chatterley was a 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.
Abbs’s third novel, The Language of Food, the story of Eliza Acton, Britain’s first domestic goddess, publishes in the UK in February 2022 and is currently being translated into 14 languages.
Eliza Acton is left flabbergasted when Mr. Longman, a publisher of great poets tells her that poetry is not the business of a lady. Eliza already has a volume of poetry published and was hoping her latest work that she’s worked on for ten years would do just as well. But Mr. Longman brushes her off and suggests she write a cookery book instead. Insulted but determined Eliza slowly comes around to the idea that she can bring something new, fresh and poetic that 19th century cookery books are seriously lacking. The only problem is that Eliza is a poet and not a cook. She’s never even boiled an egg; so how is she supposed to conjure up a range of recipes with exciting new ingredients and spices when her experience in the kitchen is non-existent?
The narrative follows Eliza Acton and her assistant Ann Kirby as they work on what has become known as the greatest British cookbook of all time. These two characters have a vast difference in their upbringing but share a love for food and literature. Eliza has always had money thanks to her family fortune, until disaster strikes with the business and they are forced into a boarding house. Ann has always known poverty and has to care for her mam who has become absent-minded. She dreams of being a cook but tells herself it’s silly and that dreams should be just dreams. However, an opportunity is offered by Reverend Thorpe who tells her of work as a scullery maid for the Acton family who have recently moved to Tonbridge. Ann is the perfect candidate and the Reverend eases her mind by telling her that her mam will be cared for and placed in a lunatic asylum. Full of guilt but knowing she needs this job, Ann takes it. When Ann meets Eliza she is taken aback, she is not what she expected. The two quickly form a bond, a friendship and Eliza insists that Ann have an opinion on the recipes that she is working on for their cookery book. The two become a force to be reckoned with in the culinary arts. Food will never taste the same again. A poetic justice served to the finest order.
Eliza and Ann complement each other well. Ann finds Eliza’s presence a joy to be around as it makes her heart leap. She no longer feels alone and finally has a friend who cares for her. Eliza finds inspiration in Ann’s presence and is intrigued by her background. A young girl who has never been in service but can read and write. Ann’s input adds the finishing touches to Eliza’s dishes, they become a work of art. Ann is surprised that Eliza wants her opinion but quickly takes great satisfaction in contributing to Eliza’s poetry. Although this is a work of fiction based on a handful of known facts about both inspiring women, Abbs has delicately and beautifully blended history with her words. She has brought new life to the past and unearthed a most refined delicacy. You will be yearning for more.
At first Eliza is reluctant to write a cookery book and after reading some recipes she discovers that they are dull and poorly written. As she teaches herself to cook she begins to see the poetry in the strangest of things such as the roughest nub of nutmeg and pale parsnips seamed with soil. She decides to write a cookery book that will include the truth and beauty of poetry. She has voices of doubt calling her imposter but then she wonders why shouldn’t culinary arts include poetry and should a recipe book not be a thing of beauty? This drive to prove others wrong flows throughout the book. You will find yourself cheering both Eliza and Ann on to accomplish what no other has achieved. It is most satisfying dear reader, you will be going back for thirds.
I give The Language Of Food By Annabel Abbs a Five out of Five paw rating.
Superb! *Chef’s Kiss* Prepare to have your tastebuds explode. This book shows how two strong and inspiring women’s friendship showed the world that they are more than their status. They are clever, brave and determined above all that they do belong in this world, to live the life of their choosing.
Abbs creates an atmosphere that heightens the reader’s senses on every level. My nose wrinkled at the foul stench of London’s streets and I grimaced at the maggots spewing from a dead mouse. But I could hardly contain my drool as Eliza and Ann served up dish after dish of tantalising aromas. This book made me so, so hungry! Make sure to have some food on standby dear reader as I had to listen to the groans of my stomach, begging me to gobble up each recipe served.
A delightful little touch at the back of the book that I loved was some of Miss Eliza’s recipes. Delicious!
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour, dates below, enjoy!
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