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A Respectable Trade

A Respectable Trade

  • reading group guide
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 life and fortune dependent on the respectable trade of sugar, rum, and slaves.

Into her new world comes Mehuru, once a priest in the ancient African kingdom of Yoruba, now a slave in England. From opposite ends of the earth, despite the difference in status, Mehuru and Frances confront each other and their need for love and liberty.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 512 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416538547 | 
  • January 2007
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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
Description
The devastating consequences of the slave trade in 18th-century Bristol, England, are explored through the powerful but FORBIDDEN attraction of well-born Frances Scott and her Yoruban slave, Mehuru. Bristol in 1787 is booming, from its shipping docks to its elegant new houses. Josiah Cole, a small dockside trader, is prepared to gamble everything to join the big players of the city. But he needs ready cash and a well-connected wife.
An arranged marriage to Frances Scott is a mutually convenient solution. Trading her social contacts for Josiah's protection, Frances enters the world of Bristol merchants and finds her life and fortune depend on the respectable trade of sugar, rum, and slaves.
Into her new world comes Mehuru, once a priest in the ancient African kingdom of Yoruba. From the opposite ends of the earth, despite the enmity of slavery, Mehuru and Frances confront each other and their needs for love and liberty.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. What is Mehuru's role in his African tribe? To what extent do his gift of prophecy and his linguistic abilities enable him to endure the hardships of the middle passage and his enslavement in England?
2. "We can never leave the Trade. It is the only thing we know." How do Sarah Cole's attitudes about the trade and the risk involved in her family's shipping business compare with those of her brother, Josiah? To what extent do Sarah's views prevent her from see more

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About the Author

Philippa Gregory
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Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels are the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

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