Friday, April 25, 2008

Bound


I have always been a fan of historical fiction. When I think back to my favorite books as a young girl or look through old boxes of my books, this is so clear to me though I don't think I realized it until I was an adult. I prefer books about women, am partial to books about London - throw in a prostitute and squalor and I'm in. I don't enjoy tales that are especially romantic or melodramatic. I am interested in how people lived - what life was like.

This is why I was so thrilled when Harper Collins offered me a copy of Sally Gunning's latest novel, Bound. Alice Cole is seven years old when she crosses the Atlantic from London to Boston with her family. When the ship reaches Boston, only she and her father remain of their family and Alice is bound by her father into indentured servitude to the Morton family. Mr Morton is kind to Alice and apart from doing hard work her life is not unpleasant. When Mr Morton's daughter leaves to marry, Alice goes with her and her time remaining to serve becomes the property of her new master. Alice finds herself in danger in this home and runs away. She stows away on a boat to Satucket on Cape Cod and is taken in by the Widow Berry. Here Alice works hard but lives in fear of her secrets being discovered. The life that Alice builds in Satucket is jeopardized and it takes every bit of her strength and bravery to find her way again.

Bound is just the sort of historical fiction I love. I thought the characters were interesting and multifaceted. There was a fascinating plot that kept me turning pages. There was a small amount of romance that did not overshadow the main storyline. What I enjoyed the most, though, was reading about life in New England in 1764 with the controversy of taxation without representation in the background. I learned not only about the politics and legal processes of the time, but also what sort of work was done in the home including how cloth was made, what sorts of food were eaten and what life was like for women.

I have not yet read Sally Gunning's previous novel, The Widow's War which is the story of the Widow Berry. I certainly plan to, and look forward to seeing what Gunning writes next. While this story wrapped up nicely, I could see the possibility of Alice turning up in Gunning's future work.

14 comments:

Kay said...

This one sounds wonderful. I'm on a historical kick right now as well, although I am reading mysteries. Very nice review and I'll have to be on the lookout for this one.

raych said...

I also love me some historical fiction. I'm a total sucker for anything with lords and ladies, or monks, or yes, prostitutes and squalor. I feel like I'm learning something and I'm being entertained. Win win!

Maw Books said...

This one sounds really interesting. I'll have to look into it. I hadn't realized how much historical fiction I've read this year, but I've been enjoying it.

Bybee said...

The story sounds interesting and the cover is beautiful.

Gentle Reader said...

Ooh, this sounds interesting. I did read The Widow's War (after visiting the place it was set--Cape Cod) and it was very good. I reviewed it, I'll send you the link if you want. I'll have to try this one, too! Thanks :)

Lisa said...

You did such a good job explaining what it is you like about historical fiction. I've tried to put it into words many times myself and haven't felt that I explained myself adequately. You nailed it. I feel exactly the same way about historical fiction -- it's the daily life for people (especially women) that I'm the most interested in. Thanks for a great review!

Tara said...

Kay, it really was. I definitely recommend. it.

Raych, I feel the same way - I can call it educational!

Maw Books, I seem to go in spurts and this is the best I've read in a while.

Bybee, Isn't the cover gorgeous? I almost mentioned but thought it too superficial...

Gentle reader, I think I remember your review. You will definitely like this one then.

Lisa, I am humbled by your remarks. Thank you so much.

LisaMM said...

Tara, great job (as always) on this review. It sounds fabulous. I love historical fiction and this is just the type of book I think my book club would enjoy. Seems like there would be a lot to discuss. Thanks!

Danielle said...

I'm really enjoying this book as well. I have her first novel and plan on reading it (hopefully when I finish this one). I have to say, though, it was hard reading the passages of her being mistreated by Verley. It's so infuriating how women (no doubt all slaves since that's essentially what she was) were treated.

Old Saratoga Books said...

One of the best books I read last year involved squalor, Victorian London, historical fiction and a prostitute, so maybe you would like it too: Sheri Holman's "The Dress Lodger". The heroine works in a potter's yard by day, and walks the streets in the evening in a gorgeous blue silk dress she rents from her landlord to make ends meet. Very atmospheric and great writing.

-Rachel

Marie said...

Great review. That sounds like a neat book. A nonfiction book you might like on similiar subjects is "The Age of Homespun" by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I might check out "Bound" soon though. :-)

Tara said...

LisaMM, Thank you very much! I think this would be an interesting book to discuss.

Danielle, I'm glad. I also own and plan to read Widow's War. I know what you mean - I'm sure there were too many girls who never did get away and suffered only because of their circumstances in life.

Old Saratoga Books (Rachel), thanks for stopping by - your bookshop looks like a dream! Thanks for the recommendation - I read The Dress Lodger some years ago but I should revisit it.

Marie, Hi! Thanks for stopping by. Thank you for the recommendation - I have two other books by this author - but not this one!

Jeane said...

This looks very good. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but like to now and again. I think I'll add it to my TBR.

Tara said...

Jeane, I thought this was very well done and I'm going to read her earlier book.