Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Purchase - Linda Spalding

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.

Spalding's prose are rich, raw, powerful  and oh, so evocative. She explores so much in The Purchase - freedom, faith, family, love, loss and more.

On reading the author's notes, I discovered that The Purchase is based on Spalding's own family history. She visited sites and settings that are used in the book. I think the personal connection added so much to the book.

Brilliant. One of my top reads for 2012. Can lit rocks!

Read an excerpt of The Purchase.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds fabulous! I'm wondering why he purchased a slave if he was an abolitionist.

Luanne said...

Excellent question Kathy. I'm going to insert a quote as an answer.

"From that height he stood looking down at the pink and white faces below as if he hoped to lock eyes with the one person in the crowd who dared to take charge of his fate - although if his fate can be charged to anything, thought Daniel it can only be to God as He speaks thorough each of us. It occurred to him then to pray for the boy but he did not know where to begin. Instead, he went on trying to organize his understanding of God's plan and he felt his right arm go up as if pulled by a string."

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Wow, it's interesting to know that this is based on her own family history. This sounds like such a powerful novel. I love the quote that you used to answer bermudaonion's question, and this makes me interested to read it. Beautiful review

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Very interesting. I would love to take a look at this. Seems like a very neat look at the complicated situations and actions of the time.

Luanne said...

Andrea - it is a powerful and thought provoking novel.

Pam - it's definitely worth a look. My money's on it for the GG win.