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The Embalmer’s Book of Recipes

Ann Lingard


People, flowers, memories: how do we preserve the past? Set in Cumbria’s Lake District, the shifting mosaic of the narrative explores life, love and prejudice through three very different women: Ruth, a taxidermist; Madeleine, a widowed sheep-farmer; and, Lisa, an achondroplasic mathematician.

As Lisa is drawn into the group it becomes clear that the other women have strange secrets: Ruth’s essays on embalming have an increasingly dark theme. “The Embalmer’s Book of Recipes” is a story about harsh decisions: eugenics in the post-genomic age; the politics of marginalising people and communities; the desperate responses to Foot & Mouth Disease; and, the illogicality of human love.But these stark themes are offset by the warmth and humour of the rural community to which the women are bound. ‘An intriguing novel in a haunting setting, rich in texture, humorous and concerned, raising important questions about science and our relation to the natural world, to the individuals we know and to the communities we live in. A lovely book’ – Jenny Uglow. ‘A many-faceted book of science, academia and contemporary country life in the Lake District.The account of the dreadful days of foot-and-mouth disease in the last epidemic is agonising and the Cumbrian accent is perfect’ – Jane Gardam.





Publication Date:

2009 January


203mm x 127mm paperback