Wednesday, June 25, 2014

G360 Book Review of The Cook's Temptation by Joyce Wayne

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 FacebookTwitter, 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. I can identify a lot with Cordelia, and  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

Buy the Book

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
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Friday, June 20
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
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

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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