The COOK'S TEMPTATION Paperback – Nov 19 2014
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Joe Kertes, winner of the U.S. National Jewish Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for his novel Gratitude, says: “In The Cook's Temptation, Joyce Wayne takes us back to Victorian England. Her Cordelia, a fitting name, is both generous and determined. She is both of her time and ahead of it. She confronts anti-Semitism, sexism and class discrimination at a time when doing so meant risking your well-being. The triumph of this book is that it feels as modern and Canadian as it does Victorian. In telling Cordelia Tilley's story, Joyce Wayne occupies a unique perch from which she can see the world as it really is and as it can be. The Cook's Temptation is a bold and exciting novel.”
About the Author
Joyce Wayne has an M.A. in English literature, she has taught journalism at Sheridan College, Oakville, ON for twenty-five years and she lives in Toronto, ON. She was a winner of the Diaspora Dialogues contest for fiction, she was awarded the Fiona Mee Award for literary journalism, the co-writer of the documentary film, So Far From Home in 2010, a film about refugee journalists persecuted for their political views, and various of her other works have beenpublished in Parchment, Golden Horseshoe Anthology, Canadian Voices, TOK6.
Top Customer Reviews
- Jasmine D'Costa, author of Curry is Thicker than Water, Stories, and Writer-in-Residence, The Toronto Heliconian Club.
Following the death of her Jewish mother, Cordelia Tilley is sold to Windice, the village squire to help pay off her loathesome stepfather's debts.
This is a revenge novel wherein the heroine turns the tables on her detractors by utilizing the culinary skills taught to her by her Jewish mother to contaminate the miscreant's food .
Cordelia has become a victim of sado masochistic practices, sexual abuse and Anglo-Christian triumphalism.
In this novel there are allusions to literature, but it is basically a page turner and potboiler with literary
The most disappointing feature of this novel is the author's scant knowledge of Jewish tradition and ritual a prerequisite for the portrayal of antisemitism directed at Jews in Victorian England.For reasons of security Cordelia and her mother have become Marranos, ( those who profess the common culture on the outside but adhere to Jewish culture covertly).
Instead of poisoning the local well to get even with her tormenters, ( as the blood libel would have it), the heroine Cordelia Tilley, contaminates the food in the local inn, an act of culinary terrorism,assuring the demise of her persecutor.
The crime goes undetected but it signals the death of the innocence of a former victim who has lost the moral high ground.
This novel is indebted to the episodic eighteenth century picaresque novel which portrays the seduction of the innocent by a libertine, and the struggle of the heroine to either fight back or accept her fate.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A story of delicious revenge...I didn't really know what to expect with this book, but I am very glad that I read it. A curious tale with many hidden layers and unseen twists, I became entwined within Cordelia's tale. Through her struggles, Cordelia became a character that I connected with and wanted to see come out on top, no matter through what means she reached her goal. She is strong-willed and determined, although she does not always make the best choices in life. Through emotionally packed writing, Joyce Wayne sucked me in. I wanted to see Cordelia come out on top even if it was not by the best means. There were many wonderful quotes throughout, but here were a few that really spoke to me:
"I, alone, am responsible for my welfare, for I am the only one who can rain down havoc on Frederick Wendice's head-and in one way or the other-that is exactly what I intend to do."
"After today, I will no longer need to be concerned with frocks sewn with hard bustles or billowing sleeves or
tiny waists which make me gasp for breath. After tonight's dinner, I will choose to exist outside the realm of
what is fashionable and what is not. I will do as I please, dress as I please, cook as I please. If I get away
with it...anything is possible."
Along with the strange Frederick Wendice and the intriguing Polly, Cordelia's story is absolutely absorbing. This book took on many issues of the time. I enjoy learning about history in my historical fiction and this novel took on not only the typhoid epidemic and medical treatment at the time, but also the treatment of those of Jewish Heritage in Victorian England and the treatment of women, some of which was reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper.
Author: Joyce Wayne
Publisher: Mosaic Press
Type of book: Judaism, cooking, typhoid, a swan among sparrows, marriage, ambition, intelligence, 1881-1900s, England, moving among circles, anti-Judaism in Victoria era, blackmail, mistress of the manor
Year it was published: 2013
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.
Oh goodness, the characters. They're humans, real humans. The main character is Cordelia, a daughter of a Jewess who enjoys cooking and who shared Judaism with her mother. In beginning she is best described as arrogant, but at the same time I had sympathy and understanding for her, to be stuck with people she can't connect or converse on things she wants. (Yeah, been my life a lot...except I didn't look down on them.) Due to her desperation, she marries Frederick Wendice. Frederick was a character I wanted to throttle, castrate and kill. I couldn't stand him at all, not his ignorance, self-righteousness, peculiarities, and his views of Cordelia's faith. Frederick really reminded me of my ex friend, and each time he showed off his ignorance I kept wanting to smack my forehead and tell him that he's an idiot. Unfortunately he's not unique or a character of the past. In fact, those who preach conversion to christianity hold a fragment of his views. I really hope I didn't offend anyone. There are also Frederick's mother who is also despicable, although not as much as her son. She wasn't as memorable as Frederick, sorry to say so, and the manservant Jack who shares Cordelia's ambitions and secret. I suspect that Jack has a lifelong love towards Cordelia.
If you listen to something long enough, then you begin to believe it.
The book is written in first person narrative completely from Cordelia's point of view. The story is also chronological and it tends to be psychological too. The world is done and written well, and its obvious that the author has done a great deal of research. Also, I have learned some interesting new words such as dollymop (prostitute?) and so forth. The book is a bit focused on cooking, but its not a story of rising to the top, but in fact the great amount of focus goes to typhoid and science versus superstition.
(From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)
Joyce Wayne has an MA in English literature, has taught journalism at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario, for twenty-five years, and lives in Toronto, Ontario. She was a winner of the Diaspora Dialogues contest for fiction and the Fiona Mee Award for literary journalism. She is the co writer of the documentary film So Far From Home (2010), a film about refugee journalists persecuted for their political views, and various of her other works have been published in Parchment, Golden Horseshoe Anthology, Canadian Voices, and TOK6.
For more information please visit Joyce Wayne’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. She is happy to participate in Books Clubs by phone and Skype.
When reading the book, I had mixed feelings about it: not that its good or bad because it was good, but I wasn't sure how to react to Cordelia's world. Like Cordelia, I come from a Jewish background and I can identify a lot with her, although there were times I found her off-putting and unlikable. What I was puzzled about is whether or not to laugh at how people thought back then when it came to Jews, yet I didn't want to do it, and much of it remained among the ignorant. I guess this is what its meant by "dark humor." Despite the topic, I was really impressed with the way the author created the world, and how she planted doubts in me pertaining to Cordelia. Its a bit of a mystery except its a mystery that isn't solved. Some stuff in the book, namely Wendice hit way too close for comfort and its unfortunate that I used to know someone like him. I do hope that this book will educate today's modern youth that anti-Judaism was alive and well even before the Holocaust and WWII.
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
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.
Cordelia's mother had wished for her to marry the wealthiest man in Devon and become part of upper-class English society. The wealthy mine owner, Frederick Wendice, does woo her and she marries him. Her dream of becoming a member of society is dashed when she discovers that her husband wants to "save" her from her "sins", convert her to Christianity, and cleanse her of bringing typhoid fever to whoever ate her food at the Inn. He isolates her, torments her, and brutalizes her. How she rises above his brutality and becomes an independent woman is the essence of the novel.