TRADE WIND by M. M. Kaye
Kirkus Star


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Like Shadow of the Moon, Trade Wind is an expansion of a novel published some years ago (1964), before M. M. Kaye hit it big with The Far Pavilions; but since readers don't seem to mind the recycling (Shadow of the Moon was a best-seller), even this lesser period-romance chestnut should do quite well. It's the story of handsome Hero Athena Hollis, a wealthy New England orphan (courageous but rather a twit), who comes to 1859 Zanzibar determined to put an end to the slave-trade centered there. But on the seas to Zanzibar (where Hero's Uncle Nat is American Consul), a storm dashes Hero from her ship to that of scandalous Rory Frost, gun-runner and slaver. Steaming with fury at Rory's pinpricking of everything she holds dear, Hero is finally delivered to Zanzibar, where she joins in a plot (with the best of motives) to oust Mujid, the present Sultan, in favor of Yabid Bargash, his brother. This results in an armed rebellion, no end of trouble for the foreign consulates, and innumerable deaths. Meanwhile, Hero blunders on in other directions too, agreeing to marry Uncle Nat's no-good step-son Clayton--who was responsible for causing the death of gentle Zorah, Rory's slave/mistress. And Rory himself (hiding his virtues, of course) goes about the Sultan's nasty business: negotiating with pirates; exhuming buried treasure via the torture of a horrid witch doctor. Furthermore, in retaliation for Zorah's death, he kidnaps and rapes Hero (predictably, she has a languorous awakening). Will these enemies become devoted lovers? Of course--as they tend orphaned and ill tots during a cholera epidemic and finally sail to England to wrench Rory's property from greedy relatives. Some real historical backbone, fine gauzy scenery, and--despite the stereotypical characters and attitudes (a sour note is the shrug at slavery)--another smooth-sale-ing Kaye whaler, riding on the headwind of those previous commercial crossings.

Pub Date: July 2nd, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's