Book Reviews of A Respectable Trade

A Respectable Trade
A Respectable Trade
Author: Philippa Gregory
ISBN-13: 9780061094330
ISBN-10: 0061094331
Publication Date: 10/1996
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 15 ratings
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
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20 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed A Respectable Trade on + 329 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
Phillipa Gregory does a wonderful job of showing you the horrible world of slave trading and the divisions in society. At times I had to stop reading because I was overwhelmed with horror at what was acceptable behavior for the time. It's a great book and well worth the read. Would be perfect as a book club choice.
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Helpful Score: 7
It took me awhile to buy this book because I wasn't sure I could read about slave trading. I finally convinced myself to buy it because I am a huge fan of Philippa Gregory's. Once again she didn't disappoint me. Parts of it can be graphic so be ready for it, and had me crying in some parts, but wonderful read and I can't wait for her next new book.
reviewed A Respectable Trade on
Helpful Score: 7
This book will haunt you with images of the truth behind slavery. It will open your eyes to a true human tragedy that has never fully been resolved in this world. If you think you know what happened during the days of the slave trade, think again. In my opinion, this book is as much about the problems in the world today as it is about the past.

Warning: If you are sensitive, this book might be very difficult for you to read. I literally had nightmares while reading this book. I kept with it because I think it is important to realize what the slave trade did to human beings.
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Helpful Score: 4
This was certainly not Philppa Gregory's best book, but I enjoyed it well enough. The author appears to have done an amazing amount of work researching the slave trade. I think many people have heard the horrors of the slave trade but not the details. It is good to remind people that not so long ago western nations condoned the brutal treatment of their fellow human beings.

The story itself revolves around an annoying twit of a woman, Frances, and the slaves her new husband brings to Britain. The story covers all the basics; unacceptable love, intrigue, and the backstabbing that ruled the lives of "society".

The best parts of the book are the explanations for why the slaves accepted their fate instead of rebelling. Ms. Gregory explains that well.
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Helpful Score: 4
I am familiar with the portrayals of slavery in America, but not with the slavery in Great Britain. Neither did I have a very good idea of the mechanics of the slave trade, with all of its horrendous effects. All is explained in detail in this book, and set inside of a love story. But, as in real life, the ending is not "happily ever after". I feel that Ms. Gregory's characters are realistic and well-researched. The book was fascinating, though not always enjoyable. It would make a good book club discussion.
reviewed A Respectable Trade on
Helpful Score: 3
Interesting.. great historical fiction about the slave trade.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book was a little hard for me to get into, but I kept picking it up over the course of 6 months. Then all of the sudden I was hooked. Sad, beautiful and thought provoking, Philippa does it again making me think about what it must have been like during this era. I am always transformed into the time period of her works and really enjoy leaving now to take part in her historical fictions.

A good read!
reviewed A Respectable Trade on + 145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
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 sense. I couldn't care one way or another how their lives turned out. Mehuru's reasons for loving Frances so deeply were not convincingly drawn. And while I understand that Gregory wanted to illustrate the captive conditions that Frances suffered, she was so weak and so unsympathetic in her inaction & submission that I despised her for most of the book.

Starting around page 250, I gave up on trying to enjoy it and instead decided to appreciate the detail of the Bristol atmosphere (the only evocative portion of the entire book - even the descriptions of the hellish slave holds seemed generic) and laugh out loud at the insane bouts of dialogue and erratic behavior of the characters (i.e., meek and mild Frances embarking on a wide-eyed, disheveled screaming fit at Josiah about the duplicity of the Merchant Venturers).

Gregory didn't seem engaged with these characters at all, though an interview segment at the end of the book implies that she was. But the treatment of the characters seems at arm's length or, at best, haphazard. For instance, Sarah disappears for about 100 pages of the book, although the majority of the action takes place inside the house where, presumably, Sarah is still living. At the end, Frances lays in bed, heavily pregnant, and arouses no suspicions due to a convenient array of bedclothes. Perhaps Gregory intended these absurd oversights as a way to show how disengaged the characters had become with each other, but it just so happened to disengage this reader as well. By the end I was as listless as the pathetic, throat-clutching Frances. But the book read fast (a week) and I heckled it to hold my interest, so the entertainment value was high.

I hear her Tudor novels are good, so I'll stick with this author for another go. Even if the history is crap, maybe it'll be more entertaining. But so far, it's 0 for 2.
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Helpful Score: 1
A wonderful book. The premise of the book could be extremely disturbing, but Ms. Gregory managed to tell the story without crossing that line. Their was only one or two parts that may have given me pause, but the blended with the story without dragging out the incidences. Would definitely recommend.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book really shook me up, mind you it is wonderfully written as Philippa always does, it was the subject matter and they way they really treated slaves. It made me more aware of the plight of the Africians and how they were treated in the 1700's & 1800's. Very eye opening. You will not regret reading this book.
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Helpful Score: 1
I teared up a little at the end of this one. It's a commentary on the British slave trade of the late 1700's, with, in true Gregory fashion, a love story intertwined. I had a little trouble getting into it for the first couple of chapters, but it quickly sucked me in and I finished it quickly. Wonderful story, with colorful characters. Worth a look.
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A solid story. A RESPECTABLE TRADE was an interesting (and needed) look at some of England's slave trading history.

Mehuru was kidnapped from Africa, sold to Josiah and his wife, Frances. Frances falls in love with Mehuru and an amazing string of events is set off from there. I did feel it was slow in parts, and perhaps a little far-fetched in the end, but still a good story! I always appreciate Philippa Gregory's ability to set tone and atmosphere.

A solid 'B' for me.

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reviewed A Respectable Trade on + 118 more book reviews
Not PG's best, but certainly a good Historical Fiction read. I enjoyed, as always, the period detail and good plotline and window into life in a different time.
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Others have given you the summary of this book, so I will skip it. I have read everything this author has written and this book is not only different, but I had the feeling that it was better researched. It has none of the familiar themes of her other books; the mysticism, the unnatural sexuality, and other features that frankly have turned me off. Nevertheless, she spins a great story. This book is a view of the white mans' attitude towards slavery as merely another way to do business in a world that demanded more and more human labor to settle the colonies around the world. I enjoyed the book and learned a lot. Genny
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Excellent!... one of her best ever!
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This book relates information of the English slave trade. It gives a heart wrenching account of people torn from their homes and communities and plunged into a strange foreign world.
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I couldnt decide if I wanted the family to fail or win! The slave trade made them rich, and thats bad, but they also were people I cared about! I didnt want them to utterly fail either! There are different kids of slavery too; black slavery, being a wife/woman in this time period, slave to your social class, and the business world. It was very interesting!
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Another grear book from Gregory!
reviewed A Respectable Trade on
Not her best by a long shot
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Good Read