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 trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and 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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Winner of the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award. One man’s betrayal of his own moral code creates unforeseen ripples that sweep over multiple generations. With meticulous yet seamless attention to historical detail, Linda Spalding transports the reader to 18th century Virginia in this mesmerizing work. The Purchase is an epic novel in scope, depth and heart.
An incredibly gripping story about the purchase of a slave by a Quaker man, and what ensues for his family in early 19th century Virginia. The mature writing style carries a strong tale, interwoven with moral ambiguity.