A Respectable Trade

A Respectable Trade

Book - 2007
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Bristol in 1787 is booming, a city where power beckons those who dare to take risks. Josiah Cole, a small dockside trader, is prepared to gamble everything to join the big players of the city. But he needs capital and a well-connected wife.

Marriage to Frances Scott is a mutually convenient solution. Trading her social contacts for Josiah's protection, Frances finds her life and fortune dependent on the respectable trade of sugar, rum, and slaves.

Into her new world comes Mehuru, once a priest in the ancient African kingdom of Yoruba, now a slave in England. From opposite ends of the earth, despite the difference in status, Mehuru and Frances confront each other and their need for love and liberty.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2007
Edition: 1st Touchstone ed
ISBN: 9780743272544
Characteristics: 488 p. ; 21 cm


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Feb 01, 2015

Wonderful book. I had no idea about the extent of the slave trade and it was great to learn about this. Another interesting story from Gregory told from a woman's point of view. Tragic but beautifully written.

Apr 03, 2013

This is a very good book.

While it is fiction, it presents a lot of info that gives the reader a very good idea about how the people lived and worked in the late 1700s.

Nov 16, 2009

If you've enjoyed Gregory's Tudor novels, you will enjoy this one as well. Gregory weaves the story of an African man captured into slavery and the white woman he comes to love. Excellent.

Jul 07, 2008

Accepting that she doesn't have any better prospects at the age of 34, Frances Scott enters into a marriage of convenience with a Bristol trader. She is soon after presented with a shipload of African slaves and instructed to school them in English and domestic duties so that they may be sold as servants to wealthy English households. With time, Frances begins to doubt the common assertion of the time that the slaves are animals and cannot be educated. One in particular, Mehuru, challenges everything she has been taught about the slave trade.

Gregory's prose is once again breathtaking and meticulous. Unfortunately, the story itself was lacking in some areas. Frances is not much of a heroine; she isn't particularly likable and never seems to have an opinion of her own. I wasn't convinced of Frances' and Mehuru's love, having observed them seemingly going from distaste to affection with nothing in between.

Mehuru was by far the most interesting character, and I regret that we are not allowed to get to know him better. The most entertaining parts of the story involved his acclimatization to English society. Amusing are the scenes in which he is demonstrated comparing inferior aspects of English culture to those of his homeland (and the reader is forced to agree), and his descriptions of how ghastly the pale English people look. My favorite quote: "She is a white woman," he said, trying to reassure himself, discounting his insight. "They all look sick to me."


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