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.
About the Author
Linda Spalding was born and raised in Kansas. She is the author of three previous novels and two acclaimed works of nonfiction, A Dark Place in the Jungle, which was short-listed for the Trillium Book Award and the Pearson Writers’ Non-Fiction Prize, and Who Named the Knife. The Purchase received Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction. Spalding lives in Toronto, where she is an editor of Brick magazine.
Praise for The Purchase…
“Singular. . . . A wonderful novel. . . . The realities of the characters, their fears and other emotions, are both individual and universal.” —John Irving
“Powerful. . . . Passages of pure poetry. . . . [Spalding’s] novel claws at the deepest nerve of American history.” —The Rumpus
“Haunting and beautiful. . . . Brilliantly depicts the indelible stain that slavery has left on the moral fabric of America.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Beautifully written, emotionally evocative, gripping, engaging, and truthful.” —The New York Journal of Books
“Engrossing. . . . One of the finest historical novels in recent years.” —National Post
“Eerily compelling. . . . Haunting. . . . Mesmerizing lyricism. . . . Imbued with the power of myth.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Grippingly immersive. . . . Visceral, emotionally resonant.” —The Toronto Star
“Impressively original. . . . Spalding shows a command of workaday historical detail. . . . [The] principal characters are complex, and cerebral. . . . This novel’s dual book-prize nominations are much deserved.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“With meticulous yet seamless attention to historical detail, Linda Spalding transports the reader to eighteenth-century Virginia in her mesmerizing novel. . . . The Purchase is an epic novel in every way that matters—in scope, depth, and heart.” —Jury Citation, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
“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
“A poised and moving novel about the indignities of slavery and the moral stain at the inception of the American republic. The astonishing historical detail never detracts from the poignancy of the characters or the compelling narrative, which quickly swells into a drama of blood, betrayal and belonging.” —Caryl Phillips, author of A Distant Shore
“Spalding captures the grim particulars of slave life with unflinching yet restrained detail. . . . A serious, probing look at the interaction of character and environment during a seminal period in American history.” —Kirkus Reviews