Whew! The Prodigal Daughter, my seventh novel, is out now published, by Quercus. It's a story about an eighteen year old girl, Angelica, at a cookery school in Paris in the sixties who falls in love with her unsuitable Italian cousin, and her rocky journey from naive enthusiast to top caterer and telly chef.
Readers of the first Food of Love novel (The Prodigal Daughter is the second) will know Angelica's parents' story, and won't be surprised to find that her father Giovanni is beside himself to find his darling daughter throwing herself away on the charismatic but impossible Mario.
I'm ridiculously excited about this trilogy not least because it has been optioned for a TV series by Stephen Fry's company Sprout in partnership with Parallel Films. They are combining forces in the hope of making a big fat multi-series.
Of course I know that not all options turn into films -- I've been here before and more often than not they can't raise the money, can't get the actors they want, or something. But at the moment it's honeymoon time, they love the book and are confident they can pull it off, so it's hard not to hope! And would it not be great to start a new career, film writer, in my seventies?
What I've enjoyed most about writing these novels is the contrast between the middle-class English side of the family and the volatile, noisy, emotional and outspoken Italians. And also the food! The background to the trilogy is the change in food, farming, cooking and the restaurant trade since World War Two, from rationing to Heston. The story follows the lives and loves of three generations of the Oliver and Angelotti families, most of whom are cooks, restaurateurs and farmers.
I set this website up in the hopes that it would persuade the world that I’m not a cook or restaurateur anymore, but now a full-time novelist. I doubt if it has done that. I still get more website requests for recipes than questions about how to be a published writer. But I do find myself doing far more talks about books than food these days, and I do have the occasional joy of a reader coming up to tell me that she (it’s usually a she) has read all my novels, and where is the next one?.
But a lot of readers still ask if I will write more cookbooks. Sadly, the answer is No! I haven’t the time to do both, and frankly, there are SUCH good cooks and chefs out there, with brilliant new ideas and modern takes on the way we eat, that I feel thoroughly out of date. But the website is still full of food. Of course it is. One way and another I am still involved in food, and I’m just so greedy I can’t resist still appearing on telly food programs. The Great British Menu which just goes on and on. And then I have just filmed the first series of My Kitchen Rules UK, co-judging with Michael Caines. Both series will be on air in the autumn.
And of course I still love cooking. So there are links to my other activities, past and present and to my blog, and the opportunity to tell me what you think. Of course I would prefer bouquets to brickbats, but any attention is better than none! It is better, as my partner John frequently remind me, that it is better to be looked over than over-looked!