Prue Leith – The Prodigal daughter

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Edinburgh Bookfest

Charlotte Square



Previous Michelin starred restaurateur , Prue Leith is publisher of a large volume of cookbooks, some published under her own Leith School of Food and Wine. Here to promote her second book in a pre-mapped trilogy which is her seventh novel to date. The Prodigal Daughter, will be out on the 15th September. 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.’

Leith has invested in and become an old friend of, ‘cobbler’s wax, the glue that sticks you to your chair ’ after a short course in novel writing. It certainly seems to be paying off : she has aspirations to become a film writer in her seventies, this trilogy 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. Let’s hope it all happens for the focused, driven and funny lady  who has had such an interesting career path that it doesn’t sound too ridiculous to go from chef to cookbook author to novelist and  now possible film writer. Go Prue go!

Keen to ditch the chicklet/romantic fiction and be more aligned with her male counterparts whom she tells us are described as giving , ‘deep psychological insights into dysfunctional relationships.’ Leith cites Birdsong  (Sebastian Faulks) and Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) as the best love stories and reveals Birdsong as having the best sex scene ever. I’m guessing that her love scenes won’t disappoint her readers then! Being treated to an excerpt from the book we realise sharpish that Angelica is in Paris to learn but won’t be bullied by her forceful teacher, a sentiment close to Prue’s own teaching experience, ‘people who are frightened can’t absorb. You really have to be nice to them if you want them to learn.’

Always one for moderation when it comes to cooking and not for spelt biscuits she also discussed her belief in the saturation of cuisine books and food inspired television series. Slightly schizophrenic looks define her in her television career with her looking more , ‘homepride and voice of reason’ in Great British Menu on BBC2 and , ‘a bit freaky’ looking in My Kitchen Rules Channel 4. Did you know that publishers have algorithm analysis that let them know good names for heroines and what colour of eyes are the most popular ? Well, now you do. Apparently Celtic names are on trend as is Iceland for location. Hair should be red not mousy. A fascinating insight into the world of Prue which should be a good read from what the audience heard today.

Reviewer :  Clare Crines


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