Pride and Prejudice and Coffee
Mary C. M. Phillips
eBookIt.com, April 2018
From the book’s “Introduction”: Hundreds of years ago, before the world enjoyed their favorite beverage, coffee beans were chewed. The refreshing jolt that native Ethiopians experienced might be similar to what we now encounter as we sip upon a freshly brewed cup of java; however, the method of delivery left much to be desired.”
This charming tale, sub-titled “A Caffeinated Romance and Brief Exploration of the Coffee Industry,” is just that. While describing a protest at the premises of The Pemberley Corporation, a public corporation whose interests included coffee growers in Brazil, Guatemala and Colombia, the reader is made aware of the dire working conditions extant for those farm workers, who, along with their children, “labored in the hot sun without any respite of shade.” Pemberley held large positions in these publicly traded stocks, and is now being held to account for “the exploitation of workers.”
I suspect that I am not alone in my ignorance of situations such as those described here, which I have no doubt reflect the actuality of the conditions described, at least in some if not all of these farms. I suspect that I am also not alone in my complete enjoyment of a good cup of coffee [which, of course, does not excuse the conditions endured by these farm workers!].
Along with the personal lives of the protagonists, which is completely charming, each section [not denoted as ‘chapters’] is followed by a paragraph or so of fascinating tidbits of information, headed “Sip on This,” e.g., “Coffee and Romance,” “Gluten-free Food,” “Etiquette,” “Corporate Greed [discussing the Enron bankruptcy],” et al. These take place in, among other disparate places, Jones Beach [New York], Costa Rica, and Central Park! One does not normally think of the exploitation of workers as we sip our morning cups of coffee [apparently the most heavily traded commodity in the world, next to oil], until one reads this mind-opening book!
A complete change of pace, this short, fast-moving novel is highly recommended.
Reviewed by Gloria Feit, April 2018.