Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: A Respectable Trade

Pages: 488
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 4/5
Buy: Amazon

My Summary: Mehuru is a priest in the African nation of Yoruba who is captured by (black) African slavers and is sold to an English slave trader.

Frances is the niece of Lord Scott and is left orphaned and unmarried when her father dies. In desperation, she accepts the marriage proposal of a trader, Josiah Cole.

Circumstances bring Mehuru and Frances Cole together, for better or for worse. Philippa Gregory tells an amazing story of their relationship in this novel.

My Thoughts: I wept throughout the entire novel. When I say "wept" I'm not talking about the tears that often fall when I am touched by a story -- I'm talking about being moved so deeply by a book that I know that it will stay with me forever.

I've seen Amazing Grace and as much as the movie explored the depth of suffering on the slave ships, it didn't sink in fully until I had read about it, able to apply my own imagination to the story of Mehuru and his friends. And when Mehuru met Frances, it was all over for me.

This book would be very easy for me to spoil, and I want to be careful of what I say. I've been asked recently to give more detail in my reviews about what I enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) about a book -- specifically. In this book I have to say that what touched me the most was the relationships between the slaves, particularly Elizabeth (who's African name I don't know) and Mehuru. I also really liked the way that the author went out of her way to describe the way that black and white "saw" one another so differently from their own people, almost as though they were an entirely different species. As someone who is in her thirties in the 21st century, I find this so difficult to relate to, but it helped to bring me closer to real understanding of what it might have been like in the 18th century.

I enjoy Philippa Gregory and look forward to reading more from her!


  1. Great review! Glad to see that you are back. You went on vacation, right? How was it?

  2. We went to see my mother in Ohio for Mother's Day (we're in Indiana). It was like going to a different season. My husband remarked that it felt as though coming home we went from March to May (skipping April entirely). The zoo on Saturday was fun with our little one, but it was freezing cold.

    I'm so glad to be back! I had hoped to get my copy of The Heart Mender while I was gone, but it's still not in. I did get three other books in the mail in the meantime though. What about you?

  3. Wow! I ay add this to my TBR list. I would highly recommend I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. It deals with the subject of mental illness in a family and it touched me the same way this book seemed to touch you. Another good one is Tuesdays With Morrie. I tried to read excerpts to my husband from that book and I was crying so hard I couldn't even get the words to come out. I love books that invoke that much emotion!

  4. I will have to check them out, Julie! My husband and I have agreed to stop bringing too many books into the house for the next little while since we need more bookshelves and find it impossible to let books leave the house once they come into it. We've agreed to read everything on our TBRs before we buy anything else (because we don't use libraries due to the tendency not to want to give books back lol).

    I think it's worth the add if you like an emotional read. I found it difficult to put down. The book has a great flow. My only complaint (I should add this to the review!) is that there were times it was difficult to like Frances because Gregory moves so much from her perspective to that of her husband and sister-in-law.