Sunday, February 4, 2024

Q&A with Caroline Scott




Caroline Scott is the author of the new novel Good Taste. She also has written the novel The Poppy Wife. Originally from the UK, she lives in France.


Q: The Library Journal review of Good Taste said, “Scott takes readers on a journey of professional and personal discovery, making the novel an excellent pick for those who enjoy explorations of women’s independence.” What do you think of that description?


A: I was delighted by this description! It perfectly sums up what I set out to achieve with this novel.


I have a long-held interest in women’s lives in the interwar period and enjoy creating characters who push against the boundaries of conventional behavior.


In this book I wanted to write a career-minded, independent young woman and explore how her outlook would be challenged by the professional and personal expectations of the society around her.


Stella faces moral conflicts and has to decide who she wants to be – as a writer, a daughter, a friend and a partner. To understand her mindset I read lots of novels and biographies from the 1930s and listened to sound recordings of women talking about their lives.


Developing characters is one of my favorite parts of writing fiction and I could hear Stella’s voice clearly in my head.


Q: What surprised you as you researched the novel?


A: Along this journey I learned much that surprised me – how culinary culture travels across national boundaries and always has done, how our food was highly spiced in the medieval period, the influence of religion on our diet, and how the time we eat our meals has shifted over the centuries.

Q: What do you think the story says about English food?


A: England has a long history of immigration, emigration, and international trade, and our national diet reflects that. Our ingredients and cooking techniques are a complex amalgam of influences from around the world – and that has been the case for centuries.


At the height of the 1930s economic crisis, Stella is tasked with writing a book that will boost national morale, a patriotic book which celebrates English cookery, but as she progresses with her research it becomes apparent to her that a large proportion of our basic foodstuffs are imported and we’ve been sourcing ingredients, methods, and fashions from overseas all through our history.


Thus Stella faces a dilemma. Moreover, she encounters people who wish to manipulate her writing, influencing it to suit their own agendas.


I would also like this book to show readers that English food isn’t all bad! We’ve had a poor reputation for a long time (sometimes with good reason), but there are lots of quality food producers and some excellent recipes.


Readers might not be tempted by the eel and offal dishes that Stella encounters, but I’d encourage them to seek out Grasmere gingerbread, potted shrimps, and clotted cream.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My next novel is called Greenfields and it’s due out later this year. It’s set in the English countryside in the 1930s and the cast are a utopian community who live in the grounds of a stately home.


They’re a group of idealists, artists and bohemians who have come together to make a better life, but their idyll, unity and principles are tested when the parkland is sold a building company which plans to construct a housing estate.


It’s a comic novel about the NIMBY moral dilemma, social class, and snobbery.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If you would like to cook any of the recipes mentioned in my novel, I’d urge you to get a copy of Florence White’s Good Things in England. It’s a fascinating text, revealing as much about our social history as our culinary choices. I’d also highly recommend Jane Grigson’s English Food.


I’ve blogged about wartime food at, you can discover more about my books at and you can follow me at @CScottBooks on Twitter.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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