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The Purchase [Hardcover]

Linda Spalding
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 29.99
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Book Description

Sept. 25 2012

Amazon.ca Editors' Pick: Best Books of 2012

In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family's strange relationship with a runaway slave named Bett.

Stripped down and as hard-edged as the realities of pioneer life, Spalding's writing is nothing short of stunning, as it instantly envelops the reader in the world and time of the novel, and follows the lives of unforgettable characters. Inspired by stories of the author's own ancestors, The Purchase is a resonant, powerful and timeless novel.

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Review

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." 
Ottawa Citizen

"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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Oct. 9 2012
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling story, with impeccable writing Oct. 5 2012
By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Linda Spalding is a writer based in Toronto. The Purchase is the story of a Quaker family that settles in Virginia in 1798.

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!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb writing Dec 2 2012
By Novel Girl TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This book makes you think about so many things. The title, surrounding a purchase made by the main character Daniel which changes the trajectory of his life. The tree pictured on the front of the book also plays huge significance in the book. The story is so enthraling and thought provoking. But its the writing that just grabs you and sweeps you into this story. I found myself rereading passages over as they were so moving and so well written.
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.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This novel didn't do it for me, and I will briefly try to explain why.

First of all, it wasn't the writing style. Spalding did everything with her story she could, and this book was not difficult to read through.

However, the story itself falls into a fairly predictable mode. A moralistic, weak man is cast out of his community for his transgressions, then moves to another community with different values where he is unable to maintain his morality and self-respect. His family falls apart with his children going different ways. As the disaster develops, we come to a final crisis, and then the novel finishes with an ambiguous, vaguely redemptive conclusion.

Some of the avenues are interesting and the issue of slavery in the book is handled with wisdom, in my opinion. But in the final analysis, I can't call this an outstanding book.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Purchase
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 1 month ago by Patrick Lafferty
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
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 more
Published 2 months ago by connie epp
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Spellbinding
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 2 months ago by Danita
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I enjoyed The Purchase because it had very interesting characters, although I felt parts of it were unrealistic. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Cheryl Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars a rich and entertaining story
I like how this novel covred both the stories of the Quackersand the slaves during the final years of slavery. Very well written.
Published 5 months ago by C.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling
With this story, Linda Spalding creates the world of the Dickinson family. She skilfully crafts complete and complicated characters and yet manages to develop the reader's sympathy... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lisa Dalrymple
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read, epic novel
An extraordinary family saga that builds to an incredible climax. Don't be put off by the Quakerism or the stern opening - this is a story that will leave you breathless.
Published 9 months ago by Stella Hosnani
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the historical part
Wish there were more depth to the characters. I felt that there could have been more depth in the characters. I wanted to know more about them. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Linda M
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was disappointed by the limited character development. I felt most were rather two dimensional. I also felt that although I am sure many of the historical references were... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cheryl Skinner
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story
I liked this book because it had a lot of emotions played out by the family . I would recommend it.
Published 11 months ago by Vincent E Vanasse
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