It was by chance I found out Prue Leith, a renowned cook in my younger years, had become a novelist. She mentioned in passing when she opened a new Academy that I was also a guest at. I come across it in the library, on a rare occasion when I had reached ‘L’ before I’d picked up the maximum amount of books.
This book is much better than the title and the cover – and indeed the author’s background suggests. It’s really as insightful about British politics as it is about the catering industry.
I say the catering rather than restaurant industry as the leading female character is Kate, a respected chef, running her business from home whilst single handedly bringing up her much doted upon young son. Of course, most of her work is undertaken during evening dinner parties and especially for the government. She relies heavily on the support and friendship of her best friend and her restaurateur husband who’s own son is a playmate for her Toby.
This sets the scene for how hard she works before we consider her meeting the main male character; Oliver Stapleton, a leading, honest MP, Foreign Sectary and favourite for the PM job but with a disaffected wife and children back in his West Midlands constituency. The scandal comes about after the talented caterer and the lonely MP start having friendly after dinner chats in the catering kitchen which get deliberately leaked (as most leaks are) by a bystander with low self esteem who doesn’t like them.
What I feared was the scandal; what I love is that the scandal appears to be just muck raking by the Evening Standard. I also love the insight into politics as the book mentions many real government players and also how much detail the author goes into to describe the scrumptious cooking. This is to be expected if a little excessive but cleverly weaved in nonetheless.
It says a lot that I recall both characters names without referring back to the book. I’ve always had a passing interest in American politics but this book has opened my eyes a little to the British side and I may now pick up the odd tome based in Westminster village. For sure I’m going back for more Leith and may even find the odd recipe idea for my renewed enthusiasm for cooking. (Project #DomesticGodessinthemaking)
Inspiration factor 9/10