It’s a great privilege to share my musings with you, and today I offer some culinary contemplations for your delectation!

My debut novel, The Rose of Florence, is an historical fiction, based in Renaissance Florence and includes a mixture of romance, murder and intrigue. These may be the perfect ingredients for a good story, but that’s not the only recipe you’ll find there. As my story developed, my thoughts began to turn to food (as they often do!) and how food can help create the right atmosphere for time and place. This thought kept coming back to me, and I realised that I wanted to include more of the food I'd researched. At the start of Chapter 16, Eleonora, the cook, creates her signature dessert, the zuccotto. While I loved writing about it, there was a danger that food would take over the story, and not everyone would be as excited by Renaissance recipes as me!

So, I reined in my enthusiasm (slightly!)...but something was still niggling me. I wanted to share with my readers some of the wonderful Tuscan food I’d sampled over the years (all in the name of research, of course). Florentines are very proud of their cuisine, and the restaurant and hotel owners we've come to know were very generous with their time and advice. Eventually, the plan for presenting a meal to you came together, and this is how I start The Rose of Florence...

“L’appetito vien mangiando”
“The appetite comes while you are eating”
Italian proverb

A good story should be very like a good meal and should be just as satisfying. Each will have its own stages or courses, and each course should make you look forward to the next. Like guests at my dining table, I offer my story to you for your entertainment and enjoyment.

We start with the traditional Italian aperitivo, designed to whet the appetite, encouraging you on to the next course and the course after that. At each course, I offer a simple Tuscan recipe to represent each stage of the story. We finish the story with a dolce or dessert and a simple digestivo, which I hope will leave you figuratively patting your stomach in satisfaction.

Starting a good story with an aperitivo - an Aperol spritz (AMS, 2020)

It was quite a risk, to structure a book in this way. Might it interrupt the flow of the story? Or would it actually add another layer of interest? Eventually, I decided to keep the idea, and I'm so glad I did. Reviews are beginning to come in, and it seems that the recipes are a big hit with readers.

"I really enjoyed the descriptions of the feast courses that were sprinkled in the book, the recipes look amazing. I’ve not seen this in a book before and found it refreshing and a great interlude between all the horrors going on." Georgina C, Amazon review.

"One of my favourite parts of the book is the recipes for a good meal that sit between each section, they make a nice marker and they do sound so lovely. I've added a few of the recipes to my to-try list, Italian food always sounds so indulgent!" K. Miles, Amazon review.

I'd love to know what you think.

Have you made any of the recipes?

What would you like to see next?

Want to know how to cook the perfect Florentine steak? Find it just before Chapter 11.(AMS, 2019)
Torta della Nonna...per due! (AMS, 2019)