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The Purchase (Dickinson Family Saga #1)

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,778 Ratings  ·  313 Reviews
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 cons ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by McClelland & Stewart (first published August 28th 2012)
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Sep 28, 2014 rated it liked it
In "The Purchase", Daniel is a widowed father of five who finds himself an outcast from his Quaker community when he quickly remarries a young woman not of his faith. Daniel makes a new home for himself and his family member in Virginia. However, life is proved difficult for the family and in one fatal moment a choice made by Daniel causes all of his family and neighbors years of heartache and mistrust.

The book itself is very well written but I felt all the characters devoid of any emotion.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kindle
This novel appears on two 2012 award lists: the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. I’m not certain why. The reviews I’ve read tend to be overwhelmingly positive, but I soon tired of it and struggled to finish.

The book begins in Pennsylvania at the end of the eighteenth century. Daniel Dickinson and his young family are exiled from their Quaker community when, after his wife’s death, he hastily marries a 15-year-old indentured servant girl. They end
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Oh dear me, I really thought I would like this novel. The story line seemed so promising. A young Quaker man loses his wife in child birth and marries the young girl who he rescued from the Orphanage to help with the children. This does not bode well with the Elders and they exile him. He leaves Pennsylvania and takes his new wife and children to settle in Virginia. He purchases a young negro slave by accident and loses his favourite horse in the bargain. The story line is excellent and the char ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Spalding has based her award winning novel on an ancestor, Daniel Livingston. The Pennsylvania Quaker whose wife died 21 days after childbirth chose to marry the 15-year old orphan who was her caretaker rather than return her to the orphan asylum. Ruth Boyd was a Methodist. This alliance was intolerable to the Quaker community and Daniel was shunned by everyone in it, including his own parents. He decided he had no choice but to move his family. He sold everything and acquired some land warrants ...more
Elise Abram
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Whether consciously aware of it or not, the point of view from which a story is told can make or break the story. The most popular points of view are first person—in which the reader sees the events unfold through the eyes of a single character, including their thoughts and feelings—and third person. There are typically three types of third person narrative. The first is limited, essentially another take on the first person narrative. In third person limited, the reader can only know, see and fe ...more
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
In my biased view, Linda Spalding had an exciting plot to work with: Quaker settlers head to Virginia to set up house and farm and have to reconcile their beliefs with slavery, greed and "American" individualism. All the trappings of a terrific plot: cold winters, butter churns, trading pigs with neighbours and miserable wives. And gosh darn'it but those settlers make the most of their tired (but well loved by me) plot line: they struggle, they suffer loses, they compromise, they prosper. Oh sur ...more
Esta Spalding
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure - my mother wrote this book. But she's written many books and I've never gone online to talk about them. This books is different. It's a gripping tale. Masterfully told. An epic family saga whose characters will live on in your heart long after the book is over. I cannot say enough how swept away I was by the story here and how many of my friends - who did not expect to relate to this book - found it captivating and un-put-down-able.
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Bleak story about the human capacity for cruelty.

The year is 1799.
The place is Virginia.
A slave state.

Linda Spalding uses biblical prose to tell the story of a Quaker family attempting to conform and succeed in a (non-Quaker) new environment. Again, this is a dark read.

Two stars for terrible character development, unrelenting misfortune, and unbelievable plot points.

Last, the mistreatment of slaves is sickening.
Steven Langdon
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: super
"The Purchase" has been awarded the 2012 Governor General's Prize for English-language Canadian fiction, meaning that three separate books have won the three major Canadian literary awards for 2012 ("419" by Will Ferguson won the Giller, and "Siege 13" by Tamas Dobozy won the Rogers Writers Trust prize.) The three books are quite different -- "419" is quite a complex thriller, with a set of separate characters following distinct plot lines that finally interconnect at the book's conclusion -- "S ...more
I really, really wanted to love this book. It has many things that appeal to me (a Quaker historian): late eighteenth/early nineteenth century Quakers as the main characters in the story; a story about family, migration, and frontiers; the opportunity to engage critically with sacred cow of abolitionism and Quakers; and, a Canadian author. It was a Governor General's literary award winner. The premise of the story (a widower disowned for marrying his young servant and subsequently transplanting ...more
Liz Bugg
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it
It is obvious from the first page of The Purchase that Linda Spalding is a talented writer, but although the novel has a strong beginning, by the end I felt rather disappointed. The storyline is interesting on many levels and I could see a movie based on the book doing well at the box office. For me, however, it was not quite enough to elicit more than three stars. My biggest desire was to get more deeply involved with the characters, but due to Spalding's choice of narrative style, I found this ...more
Luanne Ollivier
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
So, what does freedom really mean? This book seems to examine this question from a few different angles.

First, the obvious, slaves bought and sold. Slaves in any capacity, past or present, are the least "free" beings on earth. However, is there some recompense if the slave is actually as much a friend and colleague as they are an indentured servant? Do they have any capcacity for freedom in this instance?

Second, the bounds of religion and the limited, sometimes twisted beliefs thrust upon blind
Jan 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
I don't know why I read this novel. I have never read about a more stupid man than the main character and his children and new wife are no better. I can't believe they survived by just plodding along in life hazardly bumping into new circumstances that usually result in death.
Chris Hitchcock
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
I heard the author interviewed a few times, and was fascinated by the storyline. Unfortunately, the book itself was a disappointment. I found the character of Daniel very difficult to grasp. The book is apparently historical fiction, taking some biographical details about an ancestor and weaving a story among the strands. The book makes a bit more sense to me if I think of it as a woman's story, with men who exist only to construct the oppression within which children, wives and Negros navigate ...more
Harry Maier
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Ok, so what didn't I get about this book? I opened it with great anticipation and was rewarded with a story that got off to a good start. I wanted to like this story, especially after hearing it discussed on CBC. But from a promising beginning its seems to devolve into a loosely knit series of episodes and it is not always easy to see how all of them hold together. The basic premise that however principled we may be, life is complicated and requires us to work through our ethics in often comprom ...more
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
While I recognize that this is a well written book, I simply did not find the story to be compelling. Spalding clearly has a strong command of language and she tells the story clearly and befittingly to the period she is exploring; the tone and atmosphere are well described and I don't think there is any sense questioning the talent that this writer possesses. She knows how to write well.

The thing is, I feel that I have read this story a dozen times already. Its conventional approach to explorin
Mar 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I was hoping to enjoy this prize winning novel. I found many of the main character’s actions left so completely unexplained as to make him look foolish or the story incomplete. Why the quick marriage to the young wife not of his faith? Why did his hand go up by itself when purchasing the slave with money he didn’t have? Why did he lie down on the ground and just stay there until dark? The questions go on and on. There were so many foolish things left unexplained in this book that I could not enj ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Read The Purchase. It's one of "those" books that you cannot put down, are thinking about it when you aren't reading it and yu never want it to end. REally hoping that Linda Spalding gives us a sequel..I'd love for Mary and Bett's story to end up in Canada and read more about that part of our time in history.....but even if she doesn't, it tells a beautiful and heart-wrenching story...I won't re-tell it here....but I promise you that you will be dragged into the early 18th Century with the Dicki ...more
Penny Bedborough
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this journey. I received this free through GoodReads giveaways. I hate to think that I may not have come acroos it without this site. Its funny how the things we need most always find us, thats how I feel about this book, I was meant to read this book.
This story was enlightening in many ways. I can say with all honesty that this will be a book that I will come back to over the years. There are so many lessons in this story it would be wrong to speak of only one. I recommend this
Vincent Lam
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can hear Linda's beautiful reading voice in every page of this poetic, powerful book. The command of the vernacular in the American South is truly fluid, convincing, and wonderful!
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fictionalized account of the actual life of a Quaker shunned from Brandywine, Pennsylvania in around 1800, who then moves to the lawless, slavery dominated frontier of the western tip of Virginia (near the Cumblerand Gap). He is originally shunned for marrying a 15-year-old orphan, who had been a servant in his home, after his wife dies just after giving birth to their fifth child. (The Quakers had prohibitions against underage marriage as well as exploitation of servants. Most ma ...more
Melissa Dean
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
At first I really enjoyed the book. The beginning had me wondering what would happen next (this feeling doesn't go away). As the book progressed I found myself getting mad. Getting mad at the characters in the book and feeling helpless for other characters. This book brought about a lot of different feelings but for the most part I was angry.

I was angry that our world was like that at one point in time. I was angry that people still treat people in the same manner from time to time. I was angry
Steven Buechler
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It took a bit of energy to read this book but getting through it was worth the effort. It is a great mix of conflict and grace, with a touch of a history lesson to boot.

Page 22:
The road was narrow, full of climbs and turns and so overladen with heavy wet trees that Daniel's wool coat was soon damp. He had thought of leaving Mulberry behind, for her right front let seemed to bother her a little more each day since the long wagon-pulling trip. He had no one to mention such worries to now. Unlike h
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I loved reading this book. Couldn't put it down from the first page forward. Seduced by the intriguing topic and the delicately poetic prose, I drank in the story in just a couple of hours. But although I was happily led to see a horse, a rock, a tree in poetic terms, I was not transported to the pioneering days of Virginia and I was strangely indifferent to most of the characters - most notably to the protagonist, Daniel, whose potentially riveting dilemma is handled rather clinically. With reg ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this story. I bought it in part b/c the author is familiar to me, b/c it had received an award and b/c the Quaker angle interested me. The story was so bleak, the sun never touched a single character's face. I had a hard time with the fact that many of the characters actions are never explained. Not the story for me.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I can see why there were conflicting reviews for this novel. A great storyline - 1800's Quaker family moving on without a mother and the struggles they encounter as abolitionists. There could have been much more character development - great potential to do so. Overall, I would rate it as a 3.5.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
The writer clearly has talent, her word crafting is lovely, but the story was one painful slog. I would have given up if it wasn't our book club pick. I wanted to strangle every character, especially Daniel (what a tool).
Oh well, moving on..
Daphne Gray-Grant
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Somewhat interesting story on slavery (set in 1798). But I didn’t like the way it was told. Spaulding’s style is very obtuse. The ending was particularly aggravating. Final chapter in poetic language and virtually impossible to discern.
Oct 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Meant to give it only 2 stars. Did not really understand the point of this story. Characters weren't well developed at all. I kept waiting for something to happen to vindicate the treatment of the slaves. Daniel was so weak that I couldn't stand him in the end.
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Amnesty Internati...: July/August 2015 - The Purchase byLinda Spalding 10 33 Dec 02, 2015 08:09PM  
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Linda Spalding, Kansas-born Canadian fiction and nonfiction writer, often explores world cultures and the clash between contemporary life and traditional beliefs. Born in Topeka, she lived in Mexico and Hawaii before moving to Toronto, Ontario in 1982.

Spalding's work has been honoured numerous times. Her non-fiction work, The Follow, was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award and the Writers' Tr
More about Linda Spalding

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