- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: Mosaic Press; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 177161045X
- ISBN-13: 978-1771610452
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,173,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Cook's Temptation Paperback – Feb 1 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 worked in publishing and taught journalism for twenty-five years at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, where she launched the Journalism for International Writers program. Winner of a Diaspora Dialogues fiction contest and the Fiona Mee Award for literary journalism, she has been published in Parchment, The Golden Horseshoe Anthology, Canadian Voices and TOK6. The Cook’s Temptation is her first novel.
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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.
in this novel we get a first person account of the sado-masochism entailed by a loveless marriage.The theme of sexual bondage versus love permeates this novel, partly to cater to the voyeurism of readers and as a selling point for the novel.
Joyce Wayne studied the legendary Typhus Mary,a governness and domestic, famous for killing off her charges,allegedly by spreading disease.
The huge joke which permeates this book is the notion of retribution through putrefaction, hence the excremental vision of Joyce Wayne.
The abominations of Leviticus are embraced rather than rejected by a Jewish heroine whose social and economic status depends on subversion of the system while going along with it.
After reading this book one would never wish to visit a tavern to partake of a repast ever again,definitely a bad advertisement for the hospitality industry and haute cuisine in general.
Given the emphasis in Judaism on the sanctity of life Cordelia is a long way from living up to the normative values of her oppressed people.She triumphs over adversity but England and the yeomen English do not change.Cordelia has rebelled, but ultimately her survival requires accepting her station and its duties as laid down by the gentile social and cultural norms of the time, putting aside her sentiments and affinity for her community.Her presumed empathy for a pair of holocaust survivors miraculously transported into a 19th century milieu strains the credulity of the reader.
The prisoner has escaped, her crime undetected, but she will continue to occupy the prison as a matter of necessity.While her economic situation has changed since she can inherit the estate, her personal existential situation has not.She is no Mary Wollstonecraft.
- Jasmine D'Costa, author of Curry is Thicker than Water, Stories, and Writer-in-Residence, The Toronto Heliconian Club.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
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.
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.
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.