Title: A Respectable Trade
Author: Philippa Gregory
Genre: Historical Fiction
Star Rating: 4/5
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!