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A Respectable Trade

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3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  4,288 ratings  ·  342 reviews
Bristol in 1787 is booming, a city where power beckons those who dare to take risks. Josiah Cole, a small dockside trader, is prepared to gamble everything to join the big players of the city. But he needs capital and a well-connected wife.

Marriage to Frances Scott is a mutually convenient solution. Trading her social contacts for Josiah's protection, Frances finds her l
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ebook, 512 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Touchstone (first published December 23rd 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Holley
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
Karla
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
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Laura
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
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Karen
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
Lyra
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
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Jennifer
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
Julia
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
Allison Fifer
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
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Liliana Pinto
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
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Chanta Rand
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
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Danielle
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
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
Roberto
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
Maudie
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
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Leah Beecher
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 obvious...it'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
Shakespearesgirl
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
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Ria
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
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Zoe
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
Denise
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
Maggie
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
Judy
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
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Pam
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
Sage
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
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Marjorie Campbell
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
Justine
I was probably more critical of this since it was my focus of study in grad school, but it's just not good. Certainly Gregory's weakest book.
Katee
I had started this book several years ago as part of a book club but never finished it due to feeling bored with the first half of the book. I decided to reread it to see if I could get through it this time.

I must say that the first half of the book is a little boring in terms of its slow pace, but the first half of the book does speak more to the struggles of trade and slavery and societal values and traditions than the second half of the book. In the second half of the book, I feel that event
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Trudi Boyce
This is the 2nd time I've read this book and whilst I remembered the basic plot I had forgotten how harrowing the book is - particularly the first section - I think I had chosen to forget that section which is so graphically described. I feel that some readers may be frustrated by Frances' lack of action in rescuing the slaves from their plight but taking into account the period it is entirely plausible that she felt powerless to assist them further. I would have liked to know more about Sarah C ...more
K
Glisteningly beautiful and perfect.
This *really* made me love Philippa Gregory.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 20, 2015 08:57AM  
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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
More about Philippa Gregory...
The Other Boleyn Girl (The Tudor Court, #2) The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court, #1) The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1) The Queen's Fool (The Tudor Court, #4) The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)

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