Friday, October 10, 2014

The Cook's Temptation: A Novel by Joyce Wayne

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: May 15, 2014

Joyce Wayne brings to life the complexities of Victorian life, first in County Devon, and then in London’s East End. The big picture is about one woman’s life, class conflict, religious intolerance, suspicion, and betrayal. The central figure is Cordelia, a strong-minded Jewish woman who is caught between her desire to be true to herself and her need to be accepted by English society. The Cook’s Temptation is about a woman who is unpredictable, both strong- and weak-willed, both kind and heinous, victim and criminal. It is a genuine Victorian saga, full of detail, twists and turns, memorable scenes, and full of drama and pathos.

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I'll be the first to admit Joyce Wayne's The Cook's Temptation surprised me. I mean no offense, but debut pieces can be hit and miss and I've taken to approaching each with a healthy amount of discretion. This time round, however, fortune favored me with an ambitious and thought-provoking fiction.

Wayne's subtle style took me a while to warm to, but I think it worked in her favor when looking at the themes she tackled over the course of the narrative. Class conflict, intolerance, anti-semitism, and so on. These are big concepts and while I feel the incorporation of so many large scale ideas slowed the pacing of the story, I admire Wayne's ability to pull them together in a single narrative. 

The authenticity in Wayne's characterizations are also noteworthy. Both primary and secondary cast members are complex creatures, individuals who are tried and tested by the strictures of the Victorian era and circumstances outside their control. They are emotional beings who the reader can easily understand if not empathize with and that's saying something when one considers how foreign the prejudices of the late nineteenth century are to contemporary eyes. 

An inspiring example of both period and women's fiction, The Cook's Temptation is a moving of a one struggling to find way in the face of overwhelming adversity. A hauntingly written tale from a promising new voice. 

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At the Devil’s Stone Inn, maman ran her trade in milkmaids in a catch as catch can way. I’ve witnessed the look on the men’s faces in Polly’s parlour before, but not the expression on the girls’ faces. Polly’s women are certain of themselves, in ways I have rarely witnessed. I can’t help but wonder if the whores’ lives are superior to mine. At least they are paid and have a day of freedom every week. If I were to share my tale of indignity with a whore’s, how could mine compare favourably.
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Check Out All the Stops on Joyce Wayne's The Cook's Temptation Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, June 9
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, June 10
Book Blast at Bab’s Book Bistro
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, June 12
Book Blast at WTF Are You Reading?
Book Blast at I’d So Rather be Reading
Book Blast at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Friday, June 13
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Saturday, June 14
Book Blast at A Bookish Affair
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Book Blast at Just One More Chapter
Sunday, June 15
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, June 16
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, June 17
Book Blast at Seaside Book Corner
Book Blast at Lily Pond Reads
Wednesday, June 18
Interview at From the TBR Pile
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, June 19
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Friday, June 20
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Saturday, June 21
Book Blast at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Sunday, June 22
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, June 23
Book Blast at History Undressed
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, June 24
Book Blast at Mina’s Bookshelf
Book Blast at Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, June 25
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Book Blast at Broken Teepee
Thursday, June 26
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Friday, June 27
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

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