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.
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.
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!
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.
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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I'd like to have known more detail about why Daniel & his children were banished and Daniel was not well fleshed out.Read more