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The Bitter Trade [Kindle Edition]

Piers Alexander
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $0.99

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Book Description

In 1688, torn by rebellions, England lives under the threat of a Dutch invasion. Redheaded Calumny Spinks is the lowliest man in an Essex backwater: half-French and still unapprenticed at seventeen, yet he dreams of wealth and title. When his father’s violent past resurfaces, Cal’s desperation leads him to become a coffee racketeer. He has just three months to pay off a blackmailer and save his father’s life - but his ambition and talent for mimicry pull him into a conspiracy against the King himself. Cal’s journey takes him from the tough life of Huguenot silk weavers to the vicious intrigues at Court. As the illicit trader Benjamin de Corvis and his controlling daughter Emilia pull him into their plots, and his lover Violet Fintry is threatened by impending war, Cal is forced to choose between his conscience and his dream of becoming Mister Calumny Spinks.


Product Details

  • File Size: 658 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: epubli GmbH (April 3, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JGN9GT8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,666 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experience Olde London April 25, 2014
By CR
Format:Kindle Edition
I selected this book expecting more history of the coffee trade in England. Instead I was in for an adventure! This novel was unlike anything I have read before. The plot had many unpredictable twists and turns. The characters and setting were vivid.... I felt like I was experiencing the world through Calumny's senses.... Sight, smell, touch. I never knew what he would do next, but I felt his frustration of being illiterate and without the skills of a trade.

The author's use of 17th century English contributed to the sense of "being there". Only after reading did I discover the glossary for these historical words, but it didn't matter. Context made them easy to understand and they added to, never detracted from, the pleasure of reading.

Simply put: I could not put it down.

I read this book on Kindle.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Seventeen-year-old Calumny Spinks is unhappy with his lot in life. He lives in an Essex village, but dreams of going to London to make his fortune. This dream seems beyond his reach since his father, Peter, a silk weaver, has refused to sign him up as an apprentice. His father hasn't even taught him to read and write.

His life changes when his father returns from a visit to London in the company of Garric Pettit, a silk merchant. Garric wonders why Calumny isn't apprenticed, and it feeds his anger with his father. Calumny hears his parents arguing, follows his father to a shed on the edge of their property, and realizes that his father is not what he appears to be.

When another wealthy man rides into the village, disaster strikes. Calumny's mother is killed, and he and Peter barely escape with their lives. They travel to London and Calumny becomes embroiled in his father's past and in trying to secure a future for himself.

If you enjoy historical novels, this is a good choice. Calumny is an engaging character. He begins the novel as a disappointed adolescent, but he has a deep seated loyalty to his father and the people he loves that tests his mettle and forces him to make choices between what he knows is right and his dreams of wealth.

The plot takes places during the Glorious Revolution when Britain is bracing for a Dutch invasion and coffee houses are all the rage in London. Calumny becomes embroiled in both. Although it makes for entertaining reading, don't take the history too seriously. An appendix at the end of the book catalogs all the historical inaccuracies.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully unique novel! July 30, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
If I had to describe this book, I would say it was fun and unique. The opening pages with the unique voice of the protagonist, Calumny Spinks immediately gripped me. I always enjoy a story with odd an unusual quirky characters, and this novel has them in abundance.

The novel is set in 17th century England during the revolution and a pending Dutch invasion and around the time the coffee industry was taking hold. There were plenty of secrets, lots of dissention, and extremely colorful scenes from start to finish. With its unpredictable plot, great storyline, and lovable main character, there is much to enjoy. For a unique reading experience, I definitely recommend this wonderful novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
"A man is as great as the dreams he gives voice to.” Introducing Calumny Spinks, and his world. This debut novel is a gripping evocation of late seventeenth century London, rich in persuasive dialect and period detail. The author dramatises a key period of European history through the eyes of his bold protaganist, making for an unusual thriller that just keeps you wanting to know more about the many facets of this story. You’ll never view your coffee in quite the same way again. Strongly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bitter Trade November 7, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
On more than a few occasions my Dad said to me “From the smallest acorn comes the biggest oak”, a folk homily that nicely encapsulates The Bitter Trade by Alexander Piers. Set in England at the beginning of the Glorious Revolution and into the Restoration this book is the story of the wonderfully named Calumny Spinks, a young illiterate with a Huguenot mother, a guild-less weaver with a dark past for a father, and nothing going for him but a handsome face and a talent for mimicry.

From a fly spot of a village in the countryside Spinks travels to London, and finds himself, knowingly or not, right in the middle of people and events that will shape the future of England, and all of Europe. The reason for most of these calamitous events is that a handful of coffee merchants want to give the people a better brew to drink, and make a few fortunes on the way, and because of all the guilds and rules and tariffs that stand in their way they end up overthrowing a government. If this seems difficult to swallow you have to remember that in this era coffee-houses were the like the internet, a place where people of all castes and classes could meet and talk in anonymity.

There is a lot in this novel that smacks of the classics picturesque, but it is very much a modern novel, grounded in reality, and at times steeped in the brutality of the era. The story barely has begun before Calumny witnesses a member of his family being scolded, with in that era, as it does here, means being lynched, usually ending in death. From there Calumny gets caught up in a series of plots and encounter that flies by in a pell-mell fashion, as he moves through society, sometimes a pawn, and sometimes in charge of his own destiny, but always with wit, and a panache that I have seldom encountered. Mr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to the sequel
I was drawn to this book by the cover and having read the synopis expected a book about the importation of coffee in the seventeenth century. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Anglers Rest
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Rich and spicy as a woman's summer-sweat' - great imagery!
Calumny (Cal) Spinks lives with his father and mother in a village outside of London. Hi English father (Peter) drinks a bit too much and has more secrets than Cal can stand. Read more
Published 19 days ago by S
5.0 out of 5 stars Heady intrigue
It's not easy to be Calumny Spinks. His mother is a "Frenchy slugabed" - which effectively translates an a terminally ill woman of Huguenot descent - his father seems to have made... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Anna B
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bitter Trade
I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by A Bitter Trade – from reading the synopsis I was expecting a tale of coffee. Growing coffee, importing coffee and selling coffee. Read more
Published 25 days ago by P. Woodland
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best book I've read this year.
The Bitter Trade might well be the best book I read this year. The unique voice of the protagonist, Calumny Spinks, grabs you right from the start and sets the tone for an... Read more
Published 25 days ago by David Gaughran
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read set in 17th C. London with unique characters
Did someone say coffee and book in the same sentence? Yes, that's nothing new to me, I know. Pretty much sums up part of every day for me. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Erin Al-Mehairi
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bitter Trade
Ask Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour coordinator Amy Bruno, acclaimed author Anna Belfrage or B.R.A.G. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Erin Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique historical fiction
The Bitter Trade is a unique story based in 17th century England, and opens the door to a side of history I haven't read about before. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Shelly Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Wicked' Brew.......
A cracking read, set in late 17th Century London with an interesting combination of low and high life. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jo Barnett
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed reading The Bitter Trade
Great plot, action, suspense & extremely well written! I really enjoyed reading The Bitter Trade and look forward for more of Piers Alexander’s novels!
Published 5 months ago by Marc-Antoine Krencker
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