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The Bitter Trade [Kindle Edition]

Piers Alexander
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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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: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,101 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Experience Olde London April 25, 2014
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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3 of 3 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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3 of 3 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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3 of 3 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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2 of 2 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Calumny!
Cal takes us on a journey through his personal story of love, murder, treachery, and the responsibilities that come with inheritance. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Penny Bigwell
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could give The Bitter Trade 6 stars out of 5, I would.
I've just finished reading Piers Alexander's 'The Bitter Trade', set in the year of the 'Glorious Revolution', 1688. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Rob
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic debut novel
This is a superb novel. The characters are totally believable and three-dimensional. The descriptions of London in the 17th century are so vivid that you can almost smell the... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Chris99
5.0 out of 5 stars Get yourself a coffee and settle down for a good read...
A fabulously crafted book that transports you into a London of the Glorious Revolution. We are taken on a journey with Calumny as he finds himself embroiled in a world of... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Turty
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed reading this after a friend's recommendation and...
A very well written book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this after a friend's recommendation and I would definitely suggest giving this book a try. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Olivia Ang
5.0 out of 5 stars First read on Kindle, I enjoyed this book so much that I have since...
Engrossing from the first page to the last; richly imagined, skillfully executed and full of surprises. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Rose Axtell
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have come across in a long time
One of the best books I have come across in a long time, The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander is a triumphant first book for this new author. Read more
Published 13 days ago by D Allcock
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, Engaging and Well Drawn Historical
The time just before and during The Glorious Revolution in England was a period that I haven't studied and read maybe one other book on so I was keen to read this one by a new to... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Sophia Rose
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction. A somewhat interesting story. It was ...
Historical fiction. A somewhat interesting story. It was well written, and I admit it increased my vocabulary, in it's use of ancient language and words. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kay
5.0 out of 5 stars Lift a cup of coffee to toast an outstanding historical novel
An excellent, complex historical novel that is difficult to categorize. Is it about the introduction of the coffee trade to London? Yes. Is it about the silk trade in England? Read more
Published 3 months ago by lightly
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