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A Respectable Trade

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,677 Ratings  ·  360 Reviews
Josiah Cole is a small dockside trader in 1787 Bristol-- a city where power and wealth beckon those who dare to take risks. Josiah is willing to gamble everything to be among the 'players.' The only thing he lacks is the right wife. At thirty-four, Frances Scott is penniless and unwed. Her background is indeed aristocratic, making for a perfect match of convenience. France ...more
Published (first published December 23rd 1994)
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Feb 19, 2008 Holley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't exactly call this a romance. More of a historical account of the horrors of slavery. Francis Scott marries a man that does not suit her at all. Considered old and impoverished, her new station in life is to teach the people her husband and his sister kidnap from Africa to sell as slaves - a fact Francis learns after she has married. Francis is quite caring and compassionate & soon falls for one of the slaves, Mehuru. Mehuru proves to be everything her own husband isn't - warm, car ...more
Carla Faleiro
Nov 26, 2015 Carla Faleiro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Como sempre, uma leitura fabulosa!
Esta autora nunca me desilude, um livro escrito por ela é a garantia de uma boa leitura.
I went into this book with some expectation that it would be better than "Fallen Skies," which left me greatly disappointed with the sketchy characterizations. This book, however, continued that disappointment. Most of the characters in this book suffer from two dimensions (at most). Some, like Sarah Cole, remained one-note throughout. What struck me most was that both Mehuru and Frances were not pitiable in the deserving sense (as the premise surely demanded), but pitiful in the contemptuous se ...more
Alison Looney
Spoilers (some pretty serious ones):

So maybe you're an entitled, upper class lady living in the 1780s. You have an inkling that slavery isn't as morally sound as your church suggests. But what if the slave trade is keeping you in fancy hats? Can you overlook the severe, continuous, dehumanizing oppression? Even when you meet a slave who becomes an odd combination of servant, friend, and lover? Does the cognitive dissonance start tearing you apart?

Here's what you do: you die. You die on the last
Words can't describe how annoying this book was (although I'm willing to try). I like Philippa Gregory a lot - she reminds me of a historical Jackie Collins. In general, her books are smutty and fun. (Although I'm glad she got the incest out of her system early in her career, 'cause that was a tad creepy.)

If this book was JUST historical fiction, it would've been trashy, a bit melodramatic and pretty dang fun to read. However, Ms. Gregory had to make it a romance too, which ruined it.

I wasn't s
May 12, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always enjoyed Gregory's historical novels, my favorites being Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, both of which focused on England's place in the world as a nation of gardeners. I picked up A Respectable Trade at the library last week, having seen it in a BBC production years ago and not realizing it was based on a book by Gregory. The BBC production was pretty faithful to the book, as it turns out. The TV program had introduced me to a piece of history with which I had little or no knowledge ...more
Jun 12, 2012 Lyra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I picked up this book because I like the general time period. I wanted to dip my toe into adult historical fiction. I read and still read Ann Rinaldi and other YA HF authors. I was extremely disappointed.

I felt like I was reading a treatise on why slavery is bad. Yes, I know that's why it isn't around anymore. And no I'm not into romanticizing and sugarcoating what we know consider horrible atrocities done in the past. But, please give me a story. I felt like there wasn't a real one there.

As a
Jan 11, 2014 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Accepting that she doesn't have any better prospects at the age of 34, Frances Scott enters into a marriage of convenience with a Bristol trader. She is soon after presented with a shipload of African slaves and instructed to school them in English and domestic duties so that they may be sold as servants to wealthy English households. With time, Frances begins to doubt the common assertion of the time that the slaves are animals and cannot be educated. One in particular, Mehuru, challenges every ...more
Chanta Rand
May 24, 2012 Chanta Rand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I enjoyed it. Historical romance is my absolute favorite subject to read, and Philipa Gregory is the bomb when it comes to weaving the historical backdrop with a sweet romance. I learned a lot about the slave trade in England, which we don't hear too much about - since the Trans Atlantic slave trade of America is more heavily focused on than England's slave trade.

I liked the fact that (like Roots) this story chronicled the journey of Mehru from Africa to his orderal on the ship and to h
Apr 25, 2014 Roberto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always compare Philippa Gregory to Celine Dion: despite their undeniable talent, people always enjoy dismissing them as inferior artists and I am left to wonder why. Having read "The Other Boleyn Girl" which was very pleasant to read, I decided it to read another book with a different theme from the accomplished british author: This time its theme is the slavery trade in the 18th century. And I am glad I did it because I found it a most wonderful depiction of a most shameful period of time. Pr ...more
An interesting view of the slave trade in 18th century England. However, not as impressive as Philippa Gregory's other works. The characters do not seem fully developed and the flow is choppy. It's somewhat unbelievable that Mehuru would go from hating Frances to loving her in such a short time - I felt this needed to develop more slowly and instead was rushed along. In addition, there were a few loose ends (although minor) that were not tied up by the end. Still, would recommend reading if you' ...more
When I pick up a book by Philippa Gregory, I know before I even start that there is a good chance it's going to be a five star read. A Respectable Trade was no exception. One of those books you pick up and just can't put down.

Set in Bristol 1787, we get the story of two very different people. Mehuru, a slave taken far from home and Frances a tradesman's wife. Mehuru's journey to England was very emotional, so many deaths, the way they were treated. Awful. The way Died Of Shame was raped by Si
Apr 29, 2015 Ria rated it it was amazing
When Frances Scott agrees out of desperation to marry Josiah Cole shipping trader she thought her life would be moving upwards from having to rely on the charity of family after her parents died, with the only other option open to her is governess posts.
But what she doesn't know is that Josiah is in his fever to land a rich wife and progress in trade is dealing in uninsured trips to "acquire" slaves.
When first confronted with his initial consignment of "ignorant" slaves for her to train up and t
Nov 18, 2014 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
One of Philippa Gregory's early books and one that doesn't fail to deliver. The book is set in 18th century Bristol, based on the slave trade. Knowing Bristol quite well and understanding it's darker history, this book helped my knowledge of the slave trade develop further. In part it is a harrowing read. Young women, children and men forced to work overseas and put on ships that were only meant to hold 300 slaves, but were instead filled to the rafters with up 500 slaves. Children and mothers c ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this read. This is a story that takes place in Bristol in the year 1787 and tells of the trade enterprises of the shipping industry, in particular the slave trade...which was very popular and profitable.....It is the story of a small time Trader Josiah Cole and his arranged marriage to Francis Scott. She brings a bit of money and a name to him which allows him to move up in the social circles. In return he gives her slaves and she is to teach them English and to be obedient and ...more
Allison Fifer
Feb 23, 2014 Allison Fifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing, especially because I have loved the other Philippa Gregory books that I've read.

Summary: Frances, an upper society girl, accepts a loveless marriage because Josiah is the only one offering to marry her. Josiah and his sister, Sarah, are slave merchants who struggle to rise in society through trade. Mehru, a priest in his African country, is captured and enslaved by Josiah and Frances. Frances and Mehru fall in love. Josiah gets into some questionable trades.

Spoilers: I felt like
Liliana Pinto
Oct 13, 2013 Liliana Pinto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5, leituras-2013
Philippa Gregory foi dada a conhecer aos leitores de todo o mundo depois de escrever os livros da série Tudor e da Guerra dos Primos. "Um Comércio Respeitável" é completamente diferente das outros livros. Em tudo. O único ponto que liga estes livros é o país.
Este é um livro dificil de se comentar. Tem uma enorme carga emocional e personagens fortes (principalmente os escravos) que nos prendem ao livro do princípio ao fim.
Mehuru é um sacerdote africano que, durante uma missão pelo seu reino (Ioru
Feb 21, 2012 Danielle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was extremely disappointed in the pace of this novel and the slipshod character development. Gregory had ample opportunity to really get into the meat of the era, yet fell short in so many ways. The ending left me feeling that the main character, Frances, escaped making a life changing decision or even facing her own demons. The reasons for Mehuru's devotion were sketchy at best. Sarah's one-dimensional character was tiresome and Josiah came across as nothing more than a careless merchant who ...more
Amy John
Jul 29, 2010 Amy John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is a fascinating love story of a blue collared white women who fell in love with a very important african man. One who was once in great power captured and forced to work as a slave to white men. The journey this man took from africa to the america's alone was enough to make me cry at the torment, and sacrifices some mothers had to make in order to save their children from living a life of slavery. This story starts when slavery was just taking root, and becoming a popular trade in the americ ...more
Feb 18, 2012 Shahrun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time with this book - it glued it's self to my hands and my thoughts! I would've read it in one sitting if my life allowed me. I love the way Phillippa Gregory's evocative writing transports the reader back in time to live with the characters being read about! This book especially took me on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the cruel (Not At All) Respectable trade. It left me wondering how much truth was in the book and made me want to do some research of my own. So, imagine ...more
Dec 26, 2012 Maudie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well presented and researched look at the horrible and inhuman treatment of trading in the business of human lives. It was a difficult book to read, but another sad notch to futher understanding the many facets of something as ugly as this.

Unfortunately, it seems that history has not taught us well enough how degrading and dispectable this atrocity is...or we have just refused to learn and turned a blind eye to the degradation and suffering .

Unfortunately, too, the thousands who are sold into
Leah Beecher
Jun 16, 2014 Leah Beecher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I have never read Phillipa Gregory before, but was intrigued to read a book that looked at the dehumanizing of people though slavery from a 18th-century British backdrop. Since most books I have read come from an 19th-century American viewpoint. I just could not, however, finish it. To say it was depressing is of course's about the horrors of slavery. I was not looking for Mary Poppins! However, I could tell that, as it became more hopeless and dark, that there would not be any rede ...more
Dec 26, 2015 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The problem with this book is that it seems to have been written entirely in order to allay the white guilt felt by the author. While the setting is historically accurate (as far as I can tell, at least), the dialogue and attitudes are not, and that is why this book fails so desperately where it wants to succeed.

A Respectable Trade's first problem comes from the plot itself. In general, it should be a straightforward plot: young, white wife, newly married, falls in love with one of the slaves he
Feb 01, 2014 Maggie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't put this book down. It was fascinating and gave an overview of a disgraceful time in British history and goodness knows how much longer it would have continued if it hadn't been for Wilberforce. All the characters were trapped in some form or other. Josiah seeking wealth in order to step up another class, only to discover that money was not the key and one could only be born into class in English society at the time (unlike Australia). Frances, being a spinster and with no parents, ha ...more
Jun 30, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About 1/3 of the way into this book, I realized I had read the story of Frances and Josiah when this book was first published. I have been a fan of Gregory's historical fiction for some time. Her research is good and one gets an accurate picture of life in old England.
This one focuses on the English Slave trade; the merchant class, and how the gentry keeps their life sacred for themselves. Poor Josiah should have listened to his sister and not let his greed exceed his grasp and been content to
Mar 02, 2009 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
This book was about 100 pages too long. She spent way too much time bogged down in the details of a plot that you could guess halfway in. She throws a couple of zingers in at the end, but by that time, it was too late. I was already bored.

Next up: Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

9/50 Books read

3301/15000 pages
Wendy Kuzma
This book made me so angry, especially at the beginning. There were horrible things being done to slaves in Enlgland, and the main characters realized that they were wrong and did nothing to rectify the situation. I am sure this is historically accurate but I was just waiting for someone to get a spine and do the right thing! I can't say I really enjoyed this book but it did open my eyes to the atrocities that took place in that time period. I recently watched the movie The Butler which showed s ...more
May 19, 2014 Sage rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
God that book is depressing. Not sure which is worse, the graphic depiction of life of slavery (it has a rape scene before page 100, huge trigger for me), or the apologetic shoe-horning of contemporary sensibilities in 18th century circumstances. No living British citizen of sound mind would say endorse slavery, so I really don't see what purpose that serves.

It started out with such promise, and was well written and clearly took a lot of research. It just lost me completely around page 100. Adm
Marjorie Campbell
Jul 07, 2014 Marjorie Campbell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Respectable Trade is my first Philippa Gregory book, an author recommended as one of her favorites by my older sister. Known for her Boleyn works, I understand, I chose this novel because of my own interest in the slave trade. I approached the book guardedly, worried that it might present a trite or overly moralistic story line. Gregory, however, captured the historical reality and force of the slave trade in a captivating and romantic story line which, I learned from the appended material, wa ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 20, 2015 08:57AM  
  • The Sixth Wife (Tudor Saga, #7)
  • Devil Water
  • By Royal Decree (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #3)
Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acc ...more
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