The Purchase Hardcover – Sep 25 2012
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Winner of the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award
Trillium Award Finalist - 2013
“With meticulous yet seamless attention to historical detail, Linda Spalding transports the reader to 18th century Virginia in her mesmerizing novel …. The Purchase is an epic novel in every way that matters – in scope, depth, and heart.”
—Jury Citation , The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
"Spalding is a gifted prose stylist."
"In The Purchase, one man's unsettling betrayal of his own moral code creates unforeseen ripples that sweep over multiple generations. Thanks to Spalding's compassion and the singular brilliance of her narration this transfixing novel weaves a tale that is both intimate in nature and, ultimately, huge in scope."
—Gil Adamson, author of The Outlander
About the Author
Born and raised in Kansas, LINDA SPALDING immigrated to Canada in 1982 from Hawaii. She is the author of three much earlier novels and two acclaimed works of non-fiction, The Follow, which was shortlisted for The Trillium Book Award and the Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize; and, most recently, Who Named the Knife. She received the Harbourfront Festival Prize for her contribution to the Canadian literary community. She lives in Toronto, where she is the editor of Brick magazine.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Though the Quakers were abolitionist - opposed to slavery - through an inadvertent, almost delirious purchase, Daniel Dickinson finds himself the owner of a young slave boy, Onesimus.
This is an exceptionally well-crafted novel, and the writing style is very evocative of the period and authentic in its details: historical fiction at its very best.
It is often hard for us to understand today the theme of "man against nature", and how unforgiving the American wilderness was before it was settled. Throughout this great novel, there is a constant sense of how difficult the circumstances of day-to-day life were during this period.
There is also a very finely drawn portrait of the ubiquity of Christian belief at the time. Though Daniel owns a copy of the Aeneid, a biblical interpretation of the world is omnipresent. There may be differences between denominations in their interpretation of the bible, but there is universal acknowledgement that biblical quotes explain everything of consequence in the world, including an unbreakable natural law.
The reality of slavery is conveyed without exaggeration, but with brutal, heart-breaking honesty.
Early in the novel there is a gripping scene in which Onesimus breaks his leg, and Mary, the elder daughter of the family runs desperately to seek assistance at the nearest farm. She has taken the lot of this slave boy to heart, and we sense her desperation as she worries about him, and her strong sense of relief when she is able to help him. She genuinely regards him as a human being, whereas for others he is essentially an animal to be worked, like an ox or a horse.
Linda Spalding has done an absolutely brilliant job of creating an enthralling story, with impeccable writing, page after page.
A truly great novel, 5 stars!
One of my favorites of this book, and it has many; is the 2 pages 170-171, right before part 2, and also pages 180-184. But the book is so well written, its really the entire story. Loved this book. I look forward to her next book.
My only hesitation is that I wish she would have looked more at the effects of female exploitation and the full scope of the "bad Quakerism." This man violated many of the basic prinicples of Quakers but the original problem (and violation) was that he and his deceased wife had too many children too fast (the Quakers were big into family planning and had a concept of child development, understanding you needed to invest in each child, and that human beings were not made to have many children, as the female mortality rates in pregnancy and delivery showed). Then he accomplished the trifecta violation of marrying a teenager, who was an orphan servant (a type of "sexual harassment"?), and had even more children.
Most recent customer reviews
I really enjoyed the story.
I'd like to have known more detail about why Daniel & his children were banished and Daniel was not well fleshed out. Read more
One of the most boring books I have ever read .The characters are one dimensional and difficult to identify with.Published 21 months ago by Eva Kleinman
A germ of truth is woven into a very interesting story of how religion and races coped with the realities of a tough pioneering spirit and physical tests of survival.Published 23 months ago by Patrick Lafferty
The storyline was quit unusual and interesting and the writing was good. However, I found the actions of the characters somewhat unbelievable at times. Read morePublished 24 months ago by connie epp
I had to push myself to finish this book as I really did not enjoy it very much. I found it a bit boring.Published on Jan. 28 2014 by Danita
I enjoyed The Purchase because it had very interesting characters, although I felt parts of it were unrealistic. Read morePublished on Dec 1 2013 by Cheryl Wilson
I like how this novel covred both the stories of the Quackersand the slaves during the final years of slavery. Very well written.Published on Nov. 19 2013 by C.D.