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A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory
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A Respectable Trade (1992)

by Philippa Gregory

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"He did not know that for the first time and painfully, Frances was feeling emotions stir and warm into life."

Josiah Cole needs cash and a socially connected wife. Frances Scott needs a husband. Once married, they find themselves dependent on sustaining a particular sort of lifestyle in order to keep moving upwards. They overpay for a house, over-furnish the house, all under the resentful eye of Josiah's maiden sister.

I know very little about slavery, at any point or place, really. Only after watching Amazing Grace did I know anything about William Wilberforce and the abolitionist movement here in the UK; only after watching and reading The Help did I really know anything about racial politics in 1960s southern USA, plus drawing on reading To Kill a Mockingbird at school (and I'll admit to still not knowing very much). And I know even less about 1780s Bristol, the sugar trade or rum.

But I abandoned this after 370 pages out of 500 - so close to the end and yet I did not want to spend more time wasted on these insipid, fearful characters so bent on destroying their own lives.

I wanted to like this; I know very little of the topic and feel that I should know more. But I found the characters too irritating and undeserving of more of my time. ( )
  readingwithtea | Jul 20, 2014 |
I can accept the romance, I can even almost accept the difficult character of the Frances. But that in such a short time Mehuru could learn to speak nearly perfect English, and teach himself to read, and that while talking his mother tongue frequently, I do not believe.

On the other hand, once making the decision to suspend belief it is a good read. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Jun 6, 2013 |
I can't believe I read this back in 2008. This is another book I can't stop thinking about.

I love Philippa Gregory's Tudor series and have read every single one (except for The Other Queen which I will read soon). I went into this book with high expectations, and I wasn't let down. It's not as good as her Tudor series, but it's still amazing. ( )
  mesmericrevelation | Aug 21, 2010 |
A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory (2007)
  michelestjohn | Mar 26, 2010 |
I agree that the "romance" really ruined this book. It was unbelievable and trite. ( )
  amandacb | Mar 17, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743272544, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:10 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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 description.… (more)

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