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A respectable trade
Philippa Gregory
Adult Fiction GREGORY

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Avatar for Ryner Ryner said:
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 everything she has been taught about the slave trade.

Gregory’s prose is once again breathtaking and meticulous. Unfortunately, the story itself was lacking in some areas. Frances is not much of a heroine; she isn’t particularly likable and never seems to have an opinion of her own. I wasn’t convinced of Frances’ and Mehuru’s love, having observed them seemingly going from distaste to affection with nothing in between.

Mehuru was by far the most interesting character, and I regret that we are not allowed to get to know him better. The most entertaining parts of the story involved his acclimatization to English society. Amusing are the scenes in which he is demonstrated comparing inferior aspects of English culture to those of his homeland (and the reader is forced to agree), and his descriptions of how ghastly the pale English people look. My favorite quote: “She is a white woman,” he said, trying to reassure himself, discounting his insight. “They all look sick to me.”
posted Jul 7, 2008 at 8:52PM
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main characters Frances Scott Cole
Josiah's wife; tutors the slaves her husband captures falls in love with Mehuru.

Josiah Cole
Frances's husband; owns a slave ship; captures Mehuru; trades slaves for goods.

Delivering a message for his king; kidnapped and designated as property; falls in love with Frances.

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