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Trade Wind

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  2,376 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
The scene is teeming Zanzibar just before the American Civil War, when the Isle of Cloves was a center of African slave trade. To it comes Hero Athena Hollis, a Boston bluestocking filled with self-righteousness and bent on good deeds.

Then she meets Rory Frost, a cynical, wicked, shrewd and good-humored trader in slaves. What is Hero to make of him (and of her feelings for

Mass Market Paperback, 553 pages
Published March 1st 1985 by Bantam (first published 1963)
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SO glad this question was asked. One can't even argue that Kaye was a 'woman of…more


SO glad this question was asked. One can't even argue that Kaye was a 'woman of her time' and must be judged accordingly because for the entirety of her lived life and writing period slavery was abolished and clearly understood as an incredibly traumatic, problematic, and socially scarring situation that existed. Her works at orientalizing and problematically romanticizing British Colonial rule can at least be marginally forgiven because she enjoyed all the benefits of the Raj and is a product of the Raj and therefore was unlikely to really see or understand.(less)

Community Reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This review did not want to be written. Some reviews (typically the snarky ones) spring from your brain like Athena, pretty much fully formed; others need to be mulled over for a while you grapple for the right words to explain what the book meant to you. Trade Wind left me so conflicted that I wasn't even certain how to rate this book, much less what to say about it.


But because I am strong and invincible and all that, and also because I promised myself I wouldn't pick up another novel until I w
Trade Wind is, bar none, my favorite book...period.

I first read it when I was 16 years old, and now I'm 53. Even after 15+ readings (I've lost count), I still love it. I always hesitate to recommend it to friends, because it's almost like my baby--I don't want people to think it's ugly.

It combines beautiful writing with in-depth factual information about the history and island of Zanzibar of the mid-1800's. The plot is well maintained throughout the book. Kaye's writing is both lyrical and stro
Jan 25, 2012 Algernon rated it really liked it

A journey of ten thousand leagues has to start somewhere, and in this historical epic it starts in the kitchen of a grand mansion from Boston, in or around the middle of the nineteen century, prior to the american Civil War. A small girl with a ridiculously ponderous name, Hero Athena Hollis, has her palm read by an old Irish crone named Biddy jason:

She spoke in a hoarse, low sing-song, barely above a whisper: "There's sun in your hand, and wind and salt water. And rain ... warm rain and an isl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
At 553 pages, this isn't a book to read in one sitting; but well worth the read however long it takes. It's probably one of the most unusual books Ive read. By that I mean, nothing is black and white. The protagonists are neither all good or all bad.

For example, the heroine, in her attempt to reform the world ends up doing more harm than good; at least at first. She is impetuous, stubborn and naive. But over the course of her experiences in Zanzibar, many of which were unpleasant, she learns a g
Every bit as good the second time round! In fact better, because now I was throughly prepared for how things would go and able to love it anyway.

Something I noticed that I hadn't before is that many of the characters that I started out with a dislike for, acquitted themselves by the end. And, while some of them never do or never can (as the case may be), make up for the past for the most part I am happy with how they all "grew", even those who considered themselves well versed in the ways of th
Well, the best part was reading it with some great friends. Now, as for the book....I wavered between two and four stars from one chapter to the next so I’ll go for a final rating of three.

On the plus side: the wonderfully evocative descriptions of Zanzibar—beautiful and terrible—and fascinating historical details that seem very well-researched. While none of the main characters were particularly likable all had interesting though not completely believable character arcs. There were some thought
Moonlight Reader
I have been sick for a couple of days, and I really should've been sleeping last night, instead of finishing this book. But, instead, I was finishing this book.

I am not even sure where to begin with the writing process here. This book is a mass of contradictions: problematic, beautiful, shocking, deplorable, and incredibly compelling. The characters, even more so, with no one character being all good or all bad, even while they are doing things that are horrifying.

This book is about the slave tr
Jul 16, 2012 Caitlin rated it did not like it
No doubt a lot of people will be able to enjoy this story. I enjoyed it myself for about 300 pages or so. It's adventurous and intriguing, although not as good as The Far Pavilions or Shadow of the Moon. There's just one sticking point that dropped this book down for me...

The reason for the one star isn't because of the quality of writing but because of a turn in the plot that made it difficult for me to stomach anything that came before or after it.

(view spoiler)
Aug 29, 2014 Jaima rated it really liked it
Group read November 2014.
Trade Wind is panoramic historical romance, in the style of M.M. Kaye’s others, Shadow of the Moon and Far Pavilions, both of which I read years ago, before Amazon and Goodreads made it possible for me to find more of her books. Trade Wind is still out of print, but I was able to obtain a used paperback copy. Despite the yellowing pages and the cheesy cover, it was easy to sink into this story—it’s vivid, sensory writing, delivering the harsh and sometimes absurd histor
M.M. Kaye has a beautiful way with words. I finished this book faster than I have ever finished a 551 page book. And yet, I can't quite bring myself to give it five stars. Maybe I can manage a 4 1/2? Just.

Batty ( a sailor on Captain Rory's ship ) who was a rogue through and through, was still a likable sort because he had a heart.
Clay, I thoroughly disliked as he was a selfish blackard.
Whille, Hero ( the heroine ) was a "leap and then look" sort of person. She was full of good ideas, but she d
Jun 24, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all M.M. Kaye's fans
All the sea is not deep enough to wash away blood relationship.

What is written is written...

Visit those you love, though your abode be distant,
And clouds and darkness have arisen between you...

This is the extraordinary story of Hero Hollis and Rory Frost which is settled in Zanzibar. The author did a splendid work by describing the story of this not-well know island during slavery in the 19th century, showing the unfair game between France and England in order to profit of these workers.
For fu
Sep 07, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Hsiao
Nov 16, 2014 Amy Hsiao rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update after finishing listening to audio book version.

I cried over the half-caste girl's death. Strangely, it wasn't so infectious when I read this book for the first time in Chinese. Maybe it's because the translation isn't very good. Maybe it's because reading is more emotional than written words. Karen Chilton did a very good job in mimicking various accents and tones.


Have read Chinese version a few years ago and reread in the original in the form of audio book while commuting. Listening K
Aug 01, 2011 Jan rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2008 Juliana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Juliana by: Heather
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is one of those books where you feel like giving the heroine a real good smack! In fact nearly all the women in this historical romance are portrayed as silly, gullible and incapable of rational thought processes. Having said that, it's a book full of romance and exotic locations, and the author has incorporated interesting historical events. The attitudes to slavery are brutal and disturbing but representative of the age.
I think that if I had read this in my late teens or early twenties I
Diane Lynn
Jun 10, 2012 Diane Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Loved this reread as much as the first time.
Michelle Dee
This book was entirely not what I suspected yet I loved it anyway. Eventually. Trade Wind was a slow read for me. I can’t remember the last time it took me six weeks to finish a book. And it wasn’t that I was putting it aside to read another book when it started to get dense (which I often do), I just read it sparingly in my free time, slowing chipping away at its many pages. For most of the read, I was impatient (with both the characters and the plot) and waiting for the real action to build. I ...more
Nov 27, 2016 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Hero Hollis is adamantly opposed to slavery. Falling overboard and finding herself rescued by a sea captain who himself participates in the slave trade, she finds that all of her zeal and attempts to reform the society of the island of Zanzibar will not only be greatly challenged but largely unsuccessful. The author presents the slavery dilemma realistically and looks at all sides of the question, examining it from the standpoint of both the slaves that are well cared for and provided for, and t
Nov 23, 2009 Jenny rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2016 Virginia rated it did not like it
Shelves: just-awful, dnf
Could have been an ok book IF IT WASN'T FOR MAKING THE MAIN LOVE INTEREST A RAPIST. I'm sorry but no, I can't get past that. I don't care if he claimed he loved her all along, he raped her. I just could not get on board with this. Did not finish.
Jun 06, 2012 Shelley rated it really liked it
This is one of my all time favorite books for historical fiction. I read it every year or two.
Oct 30, 2014 Katy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book except for (view spoiler)
Aug 22, 2007 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I read this soon after reading my favorite MM Kaye book "Shadow of the Moon." I did like this when I first read it, but it hasn't aged as well. This history of Zanzibar is interesting, but the main character, Hero, is kind of an irritating fanatic. Also, as a grown-up, I find the idea of non-consensual sex leading to true love kind of distasteful.
6-stars. What am I going to do now that this book has ended? I don't feel like reading anything else at the moment.
Sarah Conner
Feb 11, 2013 Sarah Conner rated it it was amazing
I read this book in high school (40+) years ago. Loved it then and I am not sure I have read many books I liked as well in all the years that followed.
Jul 24, 2008 Sali rated it liked it
Read this first - then read Death in Zanzibar!
Jacqui Wood
Sep 01, 2015 Jacqui Wood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First book I read of this author. To say it was enthralling would be an understatement. Has power and passion with everything else thrown in! Brilliant read.
May 01, 2010 MashJ rated it it was amazing
Emory Frost- probably my top hero ever despite the infamous scene.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Retro Reads: Trade Wind Chapters 27-31 53 28 Dec 23, 2014 03:23AM  
Retro Reads: * Background Information 31 34 Dec 22, 2014 02:37PM  
Retro Reads: Trade Wind Chapters 16-20 13 14 Dec 15, 2014 11:06PM  
Retro Reads: Trade Wind Chapters 11-15 33 17 Dec 15, 2014 11:01PM  
Retro Reads: Trade Wind: Final Thoughts 25 22 Dec 10, 2014 03:37PM  
Retro Reads: Trade Wind Chapters 35-40 and Postscript 17 20 Dec 09, 2014 07:04PM  
Retro Reads: Trade Wind Chapters 1-5: 41 20 Dec 03, 2014 08:30PM  
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M. M. Kaye (Mary Margaret) was born in India and spent her early childhood and much of her early-married life there. Her family ties with the country are strong: her grandfather, father, brother and husband all served the British Raj. After India's independence, her husband, Major-General Goff Hamilton of Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides (the famous Indian Army regiment featured in The Far Pav ...more
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