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The Cook’s Temptation: A Novel by [Wayne, Joyce]
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The Cook’s Temptation: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 248 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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.”

Product Description

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.Cordelia Tilley is the daughter of a Jewish mother and an Anglican father. Her mother has groomed her for a life in English society while her father, a tough publican, has shown no tolerance for his wife’s social climbing or the conceits of their perspicacious daughter. Cordelia’s mother dies from typhoid fever, she tries to run the family ‘s establishment, she falls prey to a local industrialist, she gives birth to a son, she is tormented by her husband and his family. Finally, she is rescued by suffragette friends and sets off to start a new life in London.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, full of drama and pathos.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1754 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Mosaic Press; Reprint edition (Feb. 4 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I0BC0LS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #364,221 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I picked up the book on a Tuesday and left everything else aside for 2 days while I ravenously digested every delicious page. The tale is unique, the voice profound and the research and writing... outstanding. The story is filled with twists and turns that are not of this time or place. When I recommended it to an enthusiastic reader friend of mine, she asked what novel it was similar to, and I couldn't think of even one. It is truly a one-of-a- kind venture into an often dark, at times erotic, sometimes humorous and always fascinating family album. I highly recommend this compelling fictional novel.
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Format: Paperback
In a very Wayne-sian way, Jewish Cordelia, who is all at once, innocent-guilty, victim-killer, lover-whore, beautiful-ugly, takes us through a very Dickensian England, bringing us insights into the plight of those who live outside the mainstream. Through its many plots and sub-plots, twists and turns, The Cook's Temptation is just that. A temptation to read, salivate and savour the delectable tale she has set at our table; a veritable feast for the voracious reader.
- Jasmine D'Costa, author of Curry is Thicker than Water, Stories, and Writer-in-Residence, The Toronto Heliconian Club.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What is it like to be a hostage to the bigotry , antisemitism and religiocentrism of the English in a plague year?How does one escape from the constraints of an abusive adoptive family in a world where women are merely chattels?
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa1b40420) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19b6f9c) out of 5 stars The Cook's Temptation June 5 2014
By Stephanie - Published on
Format: Paperback
Cordelia Tilley grew up in the English countryside, cooking with he mother at the Devil's Stone Inn. Her mother, a French Jew has passed on to Cordelia the love and ability to cook French Cuisine as well as some Jewish customs, which are still not welcome in Victorian England. Cordelia sees herself as the future cook at the Inn. However, when a typhoid epidemic sweeps through, Cordelia and her mother become ill. Cordelia survives and continues to carry out cooking for the Inn, when more and more people fall ill after eating at the Inn, people begin to suspect Cordelia as the cause. To escape the blame, Cordelia agrees to marry Frederick Wendice, a higher class, well-off, industrialist from London. Cordelia believes that she will be able to climb the social ladder and fulfill the dream of running her own kitchen. Her husband has other, more heinous plans for Cordelia though.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19af00c) out of 5 stars A fascinating look at Jews in Victorian Era June 25 2014
By Svetlana - Published on
Format: Paperback
Name of Book: The Cook's Temptation

Author: Joyce Wayne

ISBN: 978-1-77161-045-2

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.

Author Information:
(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
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19af444) out of 5 stars The Cook's Temptation:A Novel Oct. 10 2014
By Erin Davies - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19af804) out of 5 stars Contagion, Disease and Anti-Semitism in Victorian England April 11 2014
By Julia M. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a fascinating look at Victorian England in the late 19th Century. The main character, Cordelia Tilley, is the youngest daughter of a French mother and an English Pub owner. Her mother has taught her French cooking and Cordelia is popular among the townspeople because of her delightful dishes. Since she and her mother are of Jewish descent, the prejudices of the times come forward in the wake of an epidemic of typhoid fever. The Jews are blamed for spreading the terrible disease, even though Jews die just like everyone else.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19af7b0) out of 5 stars Great intrigue June 16 2014
By diana silva - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this story mostly because I loved the heroine-Cordelia Tilley. I really enjoyed Cordelia and loved her very humanistic qualities. I could not help but cheer for Cordelia. I loved her strength and her vulnerability. The author did a wonderful job of making the characters feel real and the intrigue keep me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this story. It was a perfect balance of suspense, coming of age and Women Lit!