Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander + Giveaway

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander
First published by Tenderfoot in June 2014.

How I got this book:
Received a copy from its publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

'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.'

I was attracted to The Bitter Trade by its historical setting. The seventeenth century was an exciting period in English history, and one which I don't yet know much about. Alexander has created a wily young hero with a great turn of phrase, given him the improbable name of Calumny Spinks, and let him loose on unsuspecting 1680s London. Lots of story threads are entwined and tangled throughout the long novel and I did often find it difficult to keep track of all the subterfuges. Perhaps a case of too many competing ideas?
 Calumny is a fun character to spend time with although other characters aren't so convincingly portrayed, but I did like Abigail, Ty and Garric, and also Calumny's father Peter. The descriptions of places, clothes, attitudes and behaviours are wonderfully vivid, however, and provide a fabulous and wee-researched portrait of the city at that time. I liked being able to imagine the closed world of the coffee houses, the claustrophobic and loud weaving sheds, and the army barracks. Overall, The Bitter Trade is a scheming romp of a novel which does a great job of entertaining its readers.

And now for the Giveaway!

I was fortunate to receive a brand new paperback copy of The Bitter Trade from The Pigeonhole recently and that is going to be my Giveaway prize for this week. The company also sent some delicious coffee which I have reviewed on Stephanie Jane today.

'The Pigeonhole is the global book club in your pocket A book was once the best means of mass communication; now it is the phone. But there is no longer a need to choose between the two. The Pigeonhole is at the forefront of a new era of mobile reading, launching our titles in bite-sized instalments, or staves, designed to fit into any reader’s life.
All our books, from classics to new releases, are Pigeon-picked by a team of industry-trained professionals. Each serialisation is accompanied by bonus content – from interviews with the author to audio staves, playlists and photographs. Meet real-time with the author and other readers inside the book, or set up a private book club to read and discuss with friends and family.
Launched in September 2014, The Pigeonhole has already been nominated for the Digital Innovation Awards at the London Book Fair, and its founding editor Anna Jean Hughes was named as a Rising Star of the publishing industry by The Bookseller magazine.'

The Bitter Trade by Piers Alexander Giveaway

The Giveaway is open worldwide. Entries must be submitted through the Gleam widget by midnight (UK time) on the 28th September and I will randomly pick a winner on the 29th. If the winner does not respond to my email within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize and, yes, I will be checking that entrants did complete whatever task they said they did.

Good luck!

Etsy Find!
by The Wee Woodturning Co in
Coventry, England

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Piers Alexander / Historical fiction / Books from England


  1. Yay for a giveaway! I can't remember the last time I read a book with this setting. Sounds unique and Dickensy!

  2. Congratulations to my giveaway winner, Girl About Library! I hope you love the book :-)