Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bound by Sally Gunning

In Bound, Alice, an indentured servant in the mid 1700s, runs away after being mistreated by her master. The widow Berry and her border, Freeman, take her in and Alice soon earns her keep by preparing and spinning wool for the widow. What the widow and Freeman don’t know is that Alice has a secret and it’s only a matter of time before everyone finds out. When Alice’s past comes back to haunt her, her world is turned upside down. She must depend on those she doesn’t fully trust to save her.

I loved everything about this book. The story, the characters, the writing style. All wonderful. The story is powerful, thought provoking, and heartbreaking. Even though the time period was very different from my own, these characters seemed very real to me as if they could have walked right off of the page. The dilemma in which Alice finds herself isn’t too different from what could (and does) happen today. I think this makes the story and characters all the more real.

I appreciated all of the main characters and would have loved to know more about them, but this was Alice’s story. I especially liked that the whole story was told from her point of view. The reader only knows what she knows. Because of this we don’t get the full story about the widow’s fire or fine details about Freeman’s travels. How different the story would have been had the author included the points of view of Freeman, the widow, Nate or even some of the minor characters. I’m glad she chose to limit the story to Alice.

The insider’s glimpse into the birth of a country and it’s politics was especially interesting. I always found history out of a textbook dry and boring, but first hand accounts, even fictional ones, make it much more inviting. Gunning must have done a tremendous amount of research to be able to tell this story in such vivid detail. Thanks to novels like this one, historical fiction is fast becoming one of my new favorite genres.

The book was the historical note at the end of the book was very enlightening. In the note, the author explains the difference between indentured servants and chattel slaves and provides a few statistics on the slave trade in the world today. Fascinating stuff.

Highly recommended. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of The Widow’s War to read more about the widow, Lyddie Berry.

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