The Penny Heart – Book Review

As you may have noticed we don’t do many book reviews. The main reason is that foodie books were previously a thing of rarity, other than obviously recipe books. However from last year we began to see foodie books appearing in their numbers.

We were sent a copy of The Penny Heart by Martine Bailey as it was recommended to us that we might enjoy it. They seemed to. But before getting stuck into the book, my friend suggested that I should have a look at Bailey’s website to learn more about her and her previous books. It’s not a bad idea, as I may enjoy this book so much that I want to read something else of hers. My first impression of her website is that I definitely liked the look of it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she decided to gain inspiration from these Author websites so she had a better idea of what worked and what people would like to see. To be honest, it made me more excited to get started on her novel. Immediately the cover got my attention. I Love history and this cover had so many different historical illustrations. It actually reminds me a little of sailors tattoos.




The book is set in the late 18th Century England. Another huge plus point for me. This is an interesting time in history. The story centres around a woman called Mary Jebb. Mary gets sentenced to death for a confidence trick. But she manages to escape the gallows and instead lands herself the punishment of being transported to a penal colony in Australia. A common punishment at that time, one that many did not return from. Mary may have been sent away, but she was determined not to be forgotten in England. She sends two pennies, each engraved with a promise, to the two men who were responsible for her being sentenced to this horrible punishment.

This sounds like an interesting story already, doesn’t it? Well there is far more to this book. Plus where does the foodie aspect come into things? Back in England a young woman named Grace Moore jumps at the opportunity to marry a young handsome gentleman named Michael Croxon. But when Grace decides to take on a new cook to her household, the penny heart love tokens reveal she is tired to a world she didn’t even know existed.

It is from this point onwards that the two, completely polar different lives of the two woman, Mary Jebb and Grace Moore start to intertwine. Each chapter heading is a Eighteenth Century recipe such as Yorkshire Fat Rascals or the more sinister Poppy Drops which all link into the story. This book will keep you gripped in suspense from the first chapter to the very last. So open the cover and start delving into this book of deceit, revenge and murder (with a foodie twist of course). This book truly fits into the genre of Culinary Crime, which we hope continues to grow.




We love how the hugely talented author Martine Bailey describes her book as a historical novel of suspense, seasoned with recipes and remedies. The Penny Heart draws on age-old themes of cooking, trickery and revenge.

Picked as one of The Sunday Times Summer Reads 2015 we highly agree with their choice. You can pick the book up in ebook or book format at Amazon or Hodder & Stoughton publishers.


BakingBar was launched in 2010 to provide simple and straightforward baking guides and recipes. BakingBar are currently recipe developers for Neills Flour and MyProtein.