BOOKENDS REVIEW: The Purchase wins the GG award for Fiction
The Purchase has won the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction.
Every once in a while you read a book that is so touching you want to let it sink in for a few days. You pick it up again to reread a couple of sections to remind yourself how the characters evolved from the first page to the last. You reflect on the events that changed their lives. And you start daydreaming about what happens to the characters next, how their lives continue to unfold in the imaginary pages that the author never penned.
The Purchase by Linda Spalding is one of those books to me.
The characters struggle with feelings of guilt and betrayal. And they struggle between what is moral and what society demands.
The story starts in 1798, when Daniel Dickinson is cast out by his Quaker community in Pennsylvania for marrying a 15-year-old Methodist after the death of his first wife.
Daniel takes his new wife and five children on a journey to find a new home and he decides to settle in Virginia. As a Quaker, Daniel is a firm abolitionist, and he has just moved his family into a community where slavery is a way of life.
Soon after the Dickinson family starts to settle on their new land, a single event sets in motion a downward spiral of betrayal and murder and pits family members against each other.
Daniel attends a slave auction with the intention of buying tools to build a house, but somehow he ends up leaving with a slave boy. For years to come he struggles with his actions that day: “Thee did not choose me, but I chose thee.”
Daniel’s Quaker upbringing is tested further as his children grow up and begin to drift apart.
The story focuses on Daniel’s eldest daughter, Mary, who lives with a dark secret, and has her own ghosts to confront after betraying a close friend.
And all the while, the lives of slaves Simus, Bett and Bry are controlled like the puppets they were forced to be.
The Purchase explores the impact of slavery on not only slaves, but also unwilling masters who struggled with the morality of owning another human being.
Spalding has penned a beautiful story.
Contact me: email@example.com
Follow me: @JustineLewkowic