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A Respectable Trade

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  5,394 Ratings  ·  415 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
ebook, 512 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Touchstone (first published December 23rd 1994)
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Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-authors-e-h
If your view of Philippa Gregory is of an English historical novelist with a romantic slant, that is a fair description. She has won the "Romantic Novel of the Year Award" among others. But with A Respectable Trade, published in 1992, she was aiming for something a little different. It is an historical novel about the slave trade in England, and set in 18th century Bristol. Highly regarded, the script she wrote from it won an award from the "Committee for Racial Equality", and the film was subse ...more
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Óptima leitura!!!
Um registo diferente de uma escritora que nos habituou ao romance histórico, e que aqui na ficção mantém a sua qualidade.
Todas as suas personagens estão bem estruturadas, mas o Mehuru (o escravo) foi o que mais me emocionou e cativou...a descrição na primeira pessoa da sua captura, da viagem no navio e os seus sentimentos durante a mesma...foi muito poderosa e forte e deixou-me tão triste e revoltada com o que o homem é capaz de fazer a outro homem (leia-se género humano). Ass
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bib-p
“Creio que nunca saberemos quantos homens, mulheres e crianças foram raptados em África e vendidos como escravos. Segundo a maioria dos historiadores, terão atravessado o Atlântico entre quinze e vinte milhões de escravos."

A premissa era boa e a autora alinhavou a história com todos os ingredientes para um belíssimo livro.
Lamentavelmente, o desenrolar ficou aquém do esperado e não me convenceu. As personagens foram mornas – quando não irritantes – e andei sempre um passo à fren
Feb 19, 2008 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
Oct 26, 2015 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
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 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
Mar 27, 2009 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
Elizabeth♛ Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛

Despite how much controversy Philippa Gregory has around her books, I will never stop reading them. They're a lot of fun to read and also interesting, even if not everything is a hundred percent historically accurate.

This was a totally different direction for her, and I think it payed off fairly well. Instead of writing of the intricacies of the Tudor Court, she instead heads forward in time to write about the brutality of the Bristol slave trade and the romance between a n
Renae, Lady Disdain
In historical fiction circles, Philippa Gregory is not generally recognized for her accuracy or seriousness. Her books are high on drama and glamor, and her reputation is for, at the very least, embroidering the details. I’ve read one of her Tudor novels, and it was perfectly fine, though it lacked staying power or memorability. A Respectable Trade is not like Gregory’s Plantagenet or Tudor books. It is, rather, a genuine and honest attempt to look into the English slave trade and the destructio ...more
Dec 26, 2013 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
Jul 14, 2014 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
Chanta Rand
May 24, 2012 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
Allison Fifer
Feb 23, 2014 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
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
Michael Rumney
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Gregory novel I've read outside her Tudor and Plantagenet canons. In these the action is usually from the view point in the first person. A Respectable Trade is in the third person but still uses letters and correspondence to move the action forward in time.

Frances a penniless aristocrat accepts Josiah Cole's marriage proposal as a way of escaping her perilous financial situation. The benefit for Josiah is to give credence to his business expansion into other areas rather than
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
*3.5 stars* This book was so tragic and filled with such sadness. Philippa Gregory is brilliant at breaking your heart.
Liliana Pinto
Oct 09, 2013 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
Nov 15, 2014 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
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 21, 2012 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 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
Sep 12, 2011 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 28, 2011 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
Feb 20, 2009 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
Glisteningly beautiful and perfect.
This *really* made me love Philippa Gregory.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 20, 2015 08:57AM  
  • The Shadow of the Pomegranate (Tudor Saga, #3)
  • Devil Water
  • A Filha do Barão
  • O Cavalheiro Inglês
  • The Queen's Bastard
  • 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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