The Cook’s Temptation
The Cook’s Temptation
by Joyce Wayne
A fast-paced novel set in Victorian England plots the strange course of Cordelia Tilley’s
struggle against class prejudice, anti-Semitism and domestic abuse.
Cordelia Tilley is a Victorian character confronting dilemmas as fresh as today’s headlines. Born in County Devon to a sophisticated Jewish mother who married a coarse English publican, Cordelia finds solace from daily strife only in the kitchen of the Devil’s Stone Inn. Her father’s a brute, like most of his customers in the rural hostelry. Her mother sees her own social salvation in having her daughter marry up. Before dying of typhoid fever, Madeleine Tilley engineers Cordelia’s marriage to wealthy mining magnate Frederick Wendice. But life in a dark country manor with a peculiar husband who is far from a gentleman, isolates Cordelia, and sets her mind on escape. After the death of their disabled son William, she flees for London with nothing but her cunning and the cooking skills learned from her mother to sustain her. Put upon as a Jew, suspected of crimes, Cordelia is a complex character: kind and cruel, oppressed and triumphant, as strong in opposition as she is weak in the face of temptation.
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.”
Poet and essayist Ken Sherman says:
“Joyce Wayne is a born storyteller. With The Cook’s Temptation she has not only convincingly re-created the Victorian world, but has simultaneously given us insight into the complexities of our own times. Readers who love the drama and suspense of Victorian novels will be drawn to Cordelia, Wayne’s spirited heroine.”
Poet and fiction writer Ian Williams says:
“Joyce Wayne’s debut novel, The Cook’s Temptation, has the stately bearing of a nineteenth century novel – the mercilessness of Thomas Hardy, the black allegory of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the tense marriages of George Eliot. It is a story of how people become what you blame them for being.”
– Ian Williams, poet and fiction writer, short listed for the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize
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