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Above the Bay of Angels: A Novel
by Rhys Bowen

Published: 2020-02-11
Hardcover : 332 pages
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“…Sweeping and intimate, warm and gripping. I loved it!” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Gamache novels

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery ...

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Introduction

“…Sweeping and intimate, warm and gripping. I loved it!” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Gamache novels

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

Isabella Waverly only means to comfort the woman felled on a London street. In her final dying moments, she thrusts a letter into Bella’s hand. It’s an offer of employment in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace, and everything the budding young chef desperately wants: an escape from the constrictions of her life as a lowly servant. In the stranger’s stead, Bella can spread her wings.

Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.

Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows.

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Excerpt

London, September 1896
If Helen Barton hadn’t stepped out in front of an omnibus, I might still be sweeping floors and lighting fires at an ostentatious house in St John’s Wood. But for once I had followed my father’s advice. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

Above the Bay of Angels is a story of a young girl, cheated out of the life she expected but able to shine when she becomes a cook for Queen Victoria and experiences the delights of French cuisine when the queen goes to Nice.

1. Do you think Bella made a wise choice when she acted on the letter she found?
2. One of the themes of this book is the British class system. Do you think it right that Bella remains a snob?
3. Food plays a big part in this book. What does Bella learn about food as the story progresses.
4. The journey to Nice opens up a whole new world to Bella. Why do you think she is able to appreciate it more than her fellow cooks?
5. Discuss Bella’s relationship with her sister
6. The story in Nice has its basis in real history. Did the plots and intrigue enhance the story for you?
7. What was your impression of Countess Sophie? How did it change?
8. Which character did you dislike most? (There were several really objectionable ones, weren’t there?)
9. What was your impression of Queen Victoria from this story? Did it agree with what you already knew about her?
10. Did you agree with the ending? Were you surprised? Did she make the right choice?

If your book club would like to Skype with Rhys do get in touch at [email protected] and visit updates on Rhys’s website www.rhysbowen.com

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