Philippa Gregory, A Respectable Trade Reviews

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“A Respectable Trade ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 03/01/2007

A Respectable Trade
Philippa Gregory
Touchstone, Feb 2007, $16.00
ISBN: 0743272544

In 1787, in Bristol, ambitious two-bit trader Josiah Cole wants to join the respectable business elite of the city, but knows he would need plenty of investment money to achieve his goal. His only source would be a marriage of convenience to a rich wife with the right social ties. He chooses thirty-four-year-old, on-the-shelf Frances Scott and persuades her to marry him.

After exchanging their vows, he assigns her the task of metamorphosing the African slaves into house servants. One of her trainees is Yoruba priest Mehuru, who, in spite of his fall from grace, retains a dignity that stuns Frances. Soon the slave and slave trader's wife fall in love. However, besides her marriage vow of fidelity Frances always thought the dark Africans were beneath her Anglo white race, yet Mehuru seems so much the better person than her or her spouse, but will she risk her liberty for his?

This terrific, historical thriller uses a forbidden romance to bring to readers a deep look at the British triangle trade of slaves, sugar and rum. The storyline is fast-paced yet driven by the fully developed threesome; ably augmented by the support cast that opens up the late-eighteenth century to readers. Phillipa Gregory is at her best with her profound look at two types of late-eighteenth-century triangles (relationships between people and trade relationships between countries).

Harriet Klausner

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