It’s almost a year since I reviewed Caroline Scott’s The Visitors here and with her The Photographer of the Lost, reviewed here, one of my top reads in 2019, I could not be happier than to share my review of her latest book Good Taste for the blog tour today. My enormous thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate.
Good Taste was published by Simon and Schuster on 13th October 2022 and is available for purchase through the links here.
Good taste is in the eye of the beholder…
England, 1932, and the country is in the grip of the Great Depression. To lift the spirits of the nation, Stella Douglas is tasked with writing a history of food in England. It’s to be quintessentially English and will remind English housewives of the old ways, and English men of the glory of their country. The only problem is –much of English food is really from, well, elsewhere . . .
So, Stella sets about unearthing recipes from all corners of the country, in the hope of finding a hidden culinary gem. But what she discovers is rissoles, gravy, stewed prunes and lots of oatcakes.
Longing for something more thrilling, she heads off to speak to the nation’s housewives. But when her car breaks down and the dashing and charismatic Freddie springs to her rescue, she is led in a very different direction . . .
Full of wit and vim, Good Taste is a story of discovery, of English nostalgia, change and challenge, and one woman’s desire to make her own way as a modern woman.
My Review of Good Taste
Stella has a new book to write.
I so enjoyed Good Taste. It’s a cracking story. There’s a wicked, wry sense of humour underpinning the narrative that felt spot on for the era and was absolutely brilliant to read. I’ve no idea if the alliterative elements within Caroline Scott’s writing were intentional (I suspect so) but they added to my enjoyment so much. And any book that makes reference to my favourite poet of all time, John Donne, has got to be a winner!
There’s a fabulous exploration of English food and a brilliant realisation that Englishness is a somewhat nebulous and moveable concept that makes Good Taste pertinent to today’s society whilst being pitch perfect in reflecting the society of the era Stella inhabits. Xenophobic attitudes, contemptuous comments about the less well off and the excesses of those who should know better mean that, whilst there is a lightness of touch in Caroline Scott’s writing, it only serves to contrast the deeper themes all the more effectively. In Good Taste we discover what good taste truly is! I loved the way the author explored grief and relationships, honesty, worth and value with such razor sharp perception. Good Taste may revolve around research for a book about English food, but it’s surprisingly emotional too.
The plot in Good Taste is relatively gentle as Stella researches her book, but it is completely engaging. Sumptuous descriptions place the reader at the heart of the story so that it is as if they are seeing, hearing, touching, feeling and tasting everything with Stella to the extent that I’ll never consider an Eccles cake or oatcake with quite such indifference as I have before! That said, and despite living in the Fens, I won’t be eating eel in any form…
I loved the interplay between Stella and Freddie, Stella’s relationship with Michael, her sense of duty to her father and her need to be an individual woman in her own right too. Stella is as vibrant, engaging and interesting a character as you could wish to meet and what is so wonderful here is her development over the story so that she becomes a kind of Everywoman and an aspirational character for us all. I cared what happened to her.
Good Taste is a smashing story. Historically accurate and authentic, with a lead character who cannot be confined by the book’s pages but who I keep thinking about, I found Good Taste absorbed me completely. It made me laugh aloud, brought an occasional moistness to my eye and above all made me feel happy and brilliantly entertained. What more could a reader ask? Don’t miss this one.
About Caroline Scott
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.
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