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THE EMBALMER'S BOOK OF RECIPES: a new novel by Ann Lingard



Ann Lingard is a former scientist, and founder of  SciTalk ( the free resource that helps fiction-writers to find out about modern science, and meet and talk to scientists; all her own novels have some science and scientists in them, but are not 'about' science.

The Embalmer's Book of Recipes is set in present-day Cumbria and follows the interacting lives of three women: Madeleine, a widowed sheep-farmer; Ruth, a taxidermist; and Lisa, a mathematician who is also achondroplasic. Interspersed within the story are Ruth's 'blogs', a fascinating mixture of musings, information and anecdote about the Dutch and Scottish anatomists and much more -- and the book's striking cover (an image of a glass and bone eye from Peter the Great's collection, photographed by Rosamond Wolff Purcell, who worked with Stephen Jay Gould) carries a hint as to the story within.

Many of the fascinating images and short videos that lie behind the story can be seen on Ann's website,


Some reviews and comments about the book:

“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 


‘An exhilarating and compelling read. A powerful and haunting story of genetic difference, interwoven with maths, taxidermy, and the tragedy of foot and mouth disease. ' Professor Sir John Sulston, Nobel Laureate


“A many-faceted novel …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


 ‘A charming, intelligent and engrossing book, with enough dark heart to drag it away from the domain of standard female fiction fare and into much more engaging territory.  I found myself drawn in by the delicate prose and fascinating descriptions … an engrossing and enjoyable read. Kat Arney,


'A rich, absorbing, intriguing novel ... All of (the characters)  felt like real people, whom I would want to know. And they were dealing with authentic issues; from everyday problems like relationships and family rivalry to the impact of foot-and-mouth on the local Cumbrian community and the implications of unravelling the genome for people like Lisa. ... An absorbing, clever writer ....'  Mary Zacaroli, Oxford Times

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