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Belle Nash And The Bath Soufflé Book Review - William Keeling

13th May 2022

When Gaia Champion's soufflé fails to rise in 1830s Bath, it sets off a chain of events that overthrows the settled order. Centred on the personality of local councillor and bachelor extraordinaire Bellerophon 'Belle' Nash, this first volume of The Gay Street Chronicles engages with social issues that were emerging in the early days of Queen Victoria's reign and still require our close attention today. A recurring cast of whimsical characters brings a gentle humour to the writing and to the strong feminist activism of Bath's first Lady Magistrate.

"It might seem absurd that something as inconsequential as a soufflé should rouse society's passions, let alone that a single soufflé's failure to rise could have repercussions enough to affect the course of people's lives".

William Keeling, Author of 'Belle Nash And The Bath Soufflé' executed a distinctively unique novel, based in 1830's Bath, in the early days of Queen Victoria's reign. I legitimately did not expect to appreciate a novel as much as I did with this one. From the offset, the cover of the book highlighted my curiosity instantly, which made me delve in straight away.

In the book we follow the events after Gaia Champion's cook used ingredients that failed to make her soufflé rise, at first I believed how can a book possibly be written around a soufflé which failed to rise? I was proven erroneous as I examined further. The fact that a whole book can be written following this event is hilarious, witty and extremely clever.

This novel was comparable to Bridgeton but with more sass and drama you could possibly envision. We follow the protagonists Belle Nash, and Gaia Champion on their quest to fight equality and social issues., and to rid their town of injustice and gender discrimination.

"I fear my birthday fayre has been blighted by corruption. There's something rotten in the royal city of Bath and it's ended up on our dinner table".

I was consumed of love for the character development in this book, each individual was crafted perfectly, whimsical and full of delight, each were insightful as we learnt more about their personality, their flaws and their passions. My favourite character was Gerhardt, I speak basic German so I adored the German language inputted in this novel, his personality had me chuckling over his love of himself.

The added notes at the bottom of each chapter denoting the history of any facts that was mentioned, I LOVED THIS because I learnt so much, and I felt intelligent after consuming these facts haha! Although this was a refreshing, light-hearted read, we were made aware of the significant issues that were evident in this time in history, where women's role in society were basic homemakers, to take care of their family, to cook and clean. Women were unequally viewed in all aspects of their rights, and misunderstood of their intelligence. Keeling conveyed this perfectly, and I ended up feeling empathy and disappointment for the women in this novel, yet at times left rooting for Gaia on her mission to gain Magistrate in the city of Bath.

I honestly rate this book five star, and I am excited to learn that this is the first of a series, I am so excited for the next book, it was funny, full of wit and addictive. I finished it in a day it was that hard to put down. I felt as though I was transformed into another world, and I could clearly vision., the streets, the town, the houses and all the shops. I thoroughly recommended this to anyone.

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