3.5 the novel begins in 1772, when Biddy Leigh the 22 year old under cook at Mawton Manor is all set to marry her sweetheart Jem. Cooking is her passion and her ambition is to open her own place and prepare the food she wants to make. All the changes when they get word that their elderly master has married a much younger Lady Carina, who shortly descends on the manor.
What follows is an adventure, as Lady Carina takes Biddy on a mad romp to Italy. Of course things are not as straightforward as they seem, and there are plots, and betrayals a plenty to keep this story interesting. The atmosphere, awareness of time and place in very well done but it is the estimable Biddy that steals the day. She manages to stay basically unflappable in spite of some serious and nefarious doings. She is a character that brings humor, courage and affection to the most unbelievable occurrences. A fun novel, with some mystery, and an ode to the passion for food. Each chapter opens with a recipe from the time period, they ate some mightily complicated dishes.
The opening scene from this novel really drew me in quickly, it was so creepy and I couldn't help but keep reading to see what happened to cause a scene such as this. Good fun, reminded me a bit of Moll Flanders.
ARC from NetGalley