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The Purchase: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Linda Spalding
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $25.95
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $14.11 (54%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Winner of Canada's 2012 Governor General's Award for Fiction
In this provocative and starkly beautiful historical novel, a Quaker family moves from Pennsylvania to the Virginia frontier, where slaves are the only available workers and where the family’s values and beliefs are sorely tested.
In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, recently widowed and shunned by his fellow Quakers when he marries his young servant girl to help with his five small children, moves his shaken family down the Wilderness Road to the Virginia/Kentucky border. Although determined to hold on to his Quaker ways, and despite his most dearly held belief that slavery is a sin, Daniel becomes the owner of a young boy named Onesimus, setting in motion a twisted chain of events that will lead to tragedy and murder, forever changing his children’s lives and driving the book to an unexpected conclusion.
A powerful novel of sacrifice and redemption set in a tiny community on the edge of the frontier, this spellbinding narrative unfolds around Daniel’s struggle to maintain his faith; his young wife, Ruth, who must find her own way; and Mary, the eldest child, who is bound to a runaway slave by a terrible secret. Darkly evocative, The Purchase is as hard-edged as the realities of pioneer life. Its memorable characters, drawn with compassion and depth, are compellingly human, with lives that bring light to matters of loyalty and conscience.

This ebook edition includes a reading group guide.  

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This novel of frontier life focuses on one family's attempt to meet the challenges of antebellum America. At the beginning of the 19th century, widower Daniel Dickinson, cast out of his Quaker community, travels from Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley to the frontier of southern Virginia, taking with him the orphan Ruth Boyd as his new wife, and his five children—from Mary, the headstrong eldest, to the babe Joseph. When Daniel, a staunch abolitionist, inexplicably bids on the 13-year-old slave Onesimus, the purchase has many unfortunate effects. It also introduces freedom, consequence, and the hand of providence as themes Spading will follow with varying success. Onesimus befriends Mary and another slave, Bett, who is terrorized by her own master's nightly visits. When Bett gets pregnant, the lives of Mary, Bett, Bett's son, and her master, Jester Fox, become linked by both love and tragedy. Throughout the 15-year span of the novel, the Dickinson family is transformed by their disparate ambitions, though Spalding (Daughters of Captain Cook) struggles to fully develop characters in a book with a large cast. References to Virgil and the Old Testament imbue Spalding's raw, powerful writing with some hope that every human success simply requires faith, but the bleak story lacks enough space to process the endless supply of tragedy. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)

From Booklist

In 1798, Daniel Dickinson brings his five children and new bride out of Pennsylvania and into southwestern Virginia. A recent widower, Daniel has been cast out of the Quakers for marrying his family’s Methodist servant, Ruth, a 15-year-old orphan. The work is unrelenting and arduous; they have no experience building a homestead or farming. When Daniel unintentionally purchases a slave boy, Onesimus, his abolitionist beliefs slowly evaporate in the face of economic necessity and the need to protect him, or so he rationalizes. With mesmerizing prose echoing the bleak environment, Spalding demonstrates how one snip of a people’s moral fabric can cause their values to unravel. The many biblical allusions enhance the telling. “The institution is as old as time,” Daniel sorrowfully informs his daughter, Mary, when she questions him about slavery. Observing his example and its tragic aftereffects, Mary and her siblings grow up to form their own sense of right and wrong. A harrowing and moving saga with stunning evocations of day-to-day life, herbal medicine, and the meaning of freedom in early America. --Sarah Johnson

Product Details

  • File Size: 1755 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1471246698
  • Publisher: Pantheon (August 6, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BE255N0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,725 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant October 9, 2012
Linda Spalding's new novel The Purchase is a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. Trust me, it's an absolute must read.

1798. Daniel Dickinson is a devout Quaker. But when his wife dies leaving him with five young children and he quickly marries Ruth, a fifteen year old orphan, he is cast out of the fellowship. With no home and no community, he then packs his family in a wagon and heads to Virginia to homestead. At an auction to buy needed farming tools, Daniel instead ends up with a young slave boy. As an abolitionist, this goes against everything he believes in. This purchase is the catalyst for a series of events that will change the lives of family, friends, enemies and more.

I literally hurtled through the first part of The Purchase. Spalding drew me into the lives of the Dickinson family. The characters are exceptionally well drawn. Daniel struggles with his ownership of Onesimus, his marriage to a girl he doesn't even know, his efforts to build a new life for his children in a wilderness that he is ill prepared for and trying to follow his beliefs. His oldest daughter Mary is stubborn, petulant, wilful but also kind and giving. But not to her stepmother. But it is quiet, silent Ruth that I was most drawn to. And to the slave Bett as well. There is a large cast of characters, each bringing a turn in the tale. And all elicit strong emotions and reactions. The interactions between the players sets up an almost tangible sense of foreboding.

I stopped after part one, which ends on a cataclysmic note, to gather my thoughts. Where could the story go from here? I started part two a few days later and didn't put the book down until I turned the last page. And then I sat and thought again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Dark Despair February 6, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is beautifully written, but it is indeed very dark. The prose is lyrical, but stripped-down. This is an historical novel written in the manner of Thomas Hardy. It is unrelenting in the sadness and despair that the author portrays. The setting is Virginia at the very beginning of the 19 century. Ms. Hardy has managed to create a world within the confines of the covers of this book. The story is about a young Quaker man who's wife has just died, leaving him with five motherless children. He has brought a young Methodist servant into his house to help him with this brood and decides that he can only protect her and his family if she becomes his wife, even though she is not much older than his oldest child. As a result of this decision he is shunned from the Quaker community in Pennsylvania, and decides to set out for Virginia in order to start a farm. Daniel is lost out in the real world, and he makes some rather unfortunate choices as he tries to carve out a life for his family in the harsh Virginia wilderness. Daniel's choices and actions cause repercussions that are to be felt for years after and they rock his little family to the core. This is a harsh and unforgiving land that he settles in and every member of his family has to work against tremendous hardships in order to survive. These characters are so real and so incredibly human and the picture created of pioneer life so realistic, that I felt like I was there living in Southern Virginia, at the edges of the great American frontier. It is not an easy book to read because Ms. Spalding does not stint on the detail of the hardships and degradations that early pioneers had to endure. And the picture that is painted of slavery and of the lives of slaves during this time is unrelenting and sometimes unbearable. This book is a well-deserved winner of the 2012 Governor General's literary award.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Dour August 22, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am a Vine reviewer, and in the spirit of offering a complete review, I finished this book. If I had not had that motivation, I probably would have put it down several chapters in, and gone on to something more interesting and believable.

This book, which starts in 1799, is about Daniel, a Quaker, bringing his young family to the wilder parts of Virginia to start a new life. His wife has just died after childbirth, and he has no background in farming or living in the wild. His motivation for leaving Pennsylvania is that he has been shunned by the Quaker community. After his wife's death, he is criticized for having a young Methodist woman servant in the household. He had rescued her from an orphanage to help his wife, and does not want the servant to have to return there - and so in response to their criticism, he marries her. He is then accused of being disrespectful of his dead wife, and lustful, and is further shunned.

Their trip is gloom laden - going into the unknown, his new wife, who is just a child, bewildered by this sudden change in her life, his eldest daughter, who was being raised to be a lady suddenly thrust into role of caretaker of the family, and the younger children overwhelmed by change. They have few supplies, little money, and no clear plan. They are anxious about entering a slave area, as Quakers are against slavery.

After they find a place to settle, Daniel goes off to trade for tools for the farm, but impulsively, instead buys a slave boy for an inflated price, causing him to go into debt, and to have to give up one of his two horses. This is one of the strangest moments in the book, because he has no motivation for it, and immediately regrets it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid
I don't really know what I was expecting from this book - something slow to develop, ponderous and possibly bleak. Read more
Published 1 month ago by blu
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sprawling Look at Virginia in the 1800s
After the death of his beloved wife, Daniel Dickinson brings a servant into his house to care for his five children. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Holly Scudero
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This was a great read. Well written. It is hard to believe man can be so cruel to each other.
Published 3 months ago by Scott
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to finish and disappointing read.
When I first started reading this book I could hardly put it down, but maybe 1/3 into it something changed and I got so bored that I started skipping ahead and finished the book... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Shirley Henning
3.0 out of 5 stars ok but not great
It didn' t really capture me... Thought it would initially but it never got better. I found it confusing sometimes and hard to follow.
Published 4 months ago by Carol Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction written well!!
In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tonya Speelman
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Her style s elegant and spare. Here true knowledge of Friends and the natural word is perhaps not as deep as her understanding of the human condition and the law of unintended... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tracey McCowen
5.0 out of 5 stars The Purchase by Linda Spalding
Spalding’s vivid portrayal of eighteenth-century Virginia is a searing indictment of the institution of slavery, showing how personal interest and human frailty made complicit... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bloggers Recommend
2.0 out of 5 stars enough already
wow. yet another dark and depressing tale of slavery in the early 1700;s. unlike that of the book of negroes this offers little in the way of redemptive features, was unrealistic... Read more
Published 8 months ago by M. Milligan
4.0 out of 5 stars The Purchase
I love reading about this era. I found the characters to be extremely interesting. The book was a good read...a little bit predictable.
Published 8 months ago by Susan VanDeventer
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