| The Various Flavours of Coffee
I can’t now remember where the idea came from for The Various Flavours of Coffee. Like many writers, I’ve always loved the period between 1890 and 1910 – that era of so-called decadence that encompassed the plays of Oscar Wilde, the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, and so many classics of children’s literature, from Peter Pan to The Wind in the Willows. And I’ve always wanted to write a book set in the world of business. Even so, just why I chose to write a story about a late-Victorian dandy who gets sent to Africa to start a coffee plantation is now completely mysterious to me.
More than any of my other books, this story is all about the characters, and in particular the triangle between Robert Wallis, would-be poet and indolent bohemian, Emily Pinker, political idealist and free-thinker, and Samuel Pinker, Emily’s father, a businessman and visionary, whose visions turn out to reflect both the best and the worst aspects of that extraordinary age.
Looking around this section of the website, you’ll find a Q-and-A about the historical background, a deleted chapter in the form of a short story, a reading guide, and a few other goodies too. Let me know what you think of the site…. and more importantly, what you thought of the book. I’m always fascinated to get feedback from readers.