Monday 7 February 2022

#BlogTour The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs.
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.

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“When I inherited a collection of antiquarian cookery books I suspected a story might be lurking in one of them. Researching and writing the story of Britain’s first domestic goddess has been a wonderful culinary adventure.” – Annabel Abbs

About the book
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.

As soon as I read the book of cookery every household should own I was thinking to myself - no matter what this says there is nothing better than Mrs Beeton. As the story unfolds and the author melds fact with fiction, well I ended up coming away with a completely different view.

I taught myself to bake, cook and take care of my household. I was given Mrs Beeton many decades ago, because her books contain the food of folk and are written with a common sense approach. Accuracy, simplicity and instant comprehension for a novice. My father taught me how to make the best Yorkshire puddings and pancakes, based on a less is more working kitchen and indeed working class kitchen. You can make something out of anything, and it should fill the stomach, satisfy the senses and doesn't need to break the bank or win a food fashion competition.

As a young mother at the start of my twenties, I began writing down recipes that I used the most, that pleased the recipients, and it includes the evidence of labour whilst creating the perfect choc chip cookie or shortbread for instance.

The aforementioned is probably why this book resonated with me. I understand how food is its own communicator and de-stressor. My own handwritten volume of three plus decades is evidence of that. The way the author draws from the power of food as it becomes an equalizer, a communicator and in this historical setting also an opportunity for independence in a society where women are always the second class citizen - it's a riveting and visceral journey of the senses.

I loved the way Abbs approached this, the way the main characters are both examples of their class status, whilst simultaneously being bonded by their commonalities. The story becomes it's own documentation of historical events, despite the fictional aspect.

Buy The Language of Food at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Simon & Schuster UK, pub date 3 Feb. 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

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