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The Bitter Trade [Kindle Edition]

Piers Alexander
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.84

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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:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,458 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 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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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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1 of 1 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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1 of 1 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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Format:Kindle Edition
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. However, hearing about a historical book that features the coffee trade, that's newer and even better! I couldn't wait to read Piers Alexander's The Bitter Trade, especially since it was set in the 1600s during a time of much political and religious upheaval in England. As well, it's set during the this time when the Dutch threaten to overthrow the English Monarchy of James II.

Calumny's Spinks is a unique, street urchin type of character that takes to the late 17th Century London streets and sets his sights on becoming a coffee racketeer, as during this time, coffee was very popular. Since times were tough and unstable, commodities were fought over like life's blood. Piers's novel reminded me a bit like reading some of my favorite Charles Dickens novels, mostly in terms of setting feel, period details, and original, yet lovable, characters! His writing style was even similar to 17th Century London authors, as he wrote set into the time of course, but as well there was still an ease to the writing and reading and would be understandable to all readers.

I could tell that Piers had completed an enormous amount of research before and/or during his writing of The Bitter Trade and is quite knowledgeable about this time period of British history. Parts of this time period, and the Glorious Revolution, seems to not have a large amount written and published in regards to it. Such is the case of William of Orange and his plans for his Dutch overthrow of the England's crown, too--I enjoy reading books of this time period, but we need more books!
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