Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pg. 69: Sally Gunning's "Bound"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Sally Gunning's Bound.

About the book, from the publisher:
Alice Cole spent her first seven years living in two smoky, crowded rooms in London with her family. But a new home and a better life waited in the colonies, or so her father promised—a bright dream that turned to ashes when her brothers and mother took ill and died during the arduous voyage. Arriving in New England unable to meet the added expenses incurred by their misfortunes at sea, her father bound Alice into servitude to pay his debts.

By the age of fifteen, Alice can barely remember the time when she was not a servant to John Morton and his daughter, Nabby. Though work fills her days, life with the Mortons is pleasant; Mr. Morton calls Alice his "sweet, good girl," and Nabby, only three years older, is her friend, companion, and now newly married, her mistress.

But Nabby's marriage is not happy, and soon Alice is caught up in its storm; seeing nothing ahead but her own destruction, she defies her new master and the law and runs away to Boston. There she meets a sympathetic widow named Lyddie Berry and her lawyer companion, Eben Freeman. Frightened and alone, Alice impulsively stows away on their ship to Satucket on Cape Cod, where the Widow Berry offers Alice a bed and a job making cloth in support of the new boycott of British wool and linen.

At Widow Berry's, Alice believes her old secret is safe, until it becomes threatened by a new one. As the days pass, the political and the personal stakes rise and intertwine, ultimately setting off a chain of events that will force Alice to question all she thought she knew. Bound by law, society, and her own heart, Alice soon discovers that freedom—as well as gratitude, friendship, trust, and love—has a price far higher than any she ever imagined.

Library Journal hailed Sally Gunning's previous novel, The Widow's War, as "historical fiction at its best." With Bound, this wonderfully talented writer returns to pre-Revolutionary New England and evokes a long-ago time filled with uncertainty, hardship, and promise.
Among the early acclaim for Bound:
"Heartrending.... Gunning’s vibrant portrayal shows that the pursuit of happiness is not for the faint of heart."
Boston Globe

"Historical fiction at its best."
Library Journal, starred review

"[A] colonial page-turner...horrifying, spellbinding."
Publishers Weekly

"If The Widow's War identified Sally Gunning as a masterful new voice in historical fiction, Bound confirms her place as one of the very best in the field. Beautifully researched and ardently imagined, Gunning's writing is so vivid you can taste the salt in the Cape Cod air. She has a special gift for rendering the spare, constrained dialogue of the colonial Puritans and at the same time giving her characters emotional lives that are rich, moving and utterly convincing. Her Satucket novels are destined to become classics."
—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Year of Wonders and March

"Two hundred years ago, Cape Cod was not a haven for visitors in sun hats with boxes of fudge. It was an unforgiving spit of sand, where women's lives were as harsh as those of the men who went down to the sea in ships and came back in shrouds. In her novel of pitiless beauty, Bound, author Sally Gunning demonstrates again what she did in The Widow's War. Unlike many historical novelists, Gunning makes the long-ago feel like this very day. Elegantly, she tells bitter truths;that dignity and grace and even abiding love can flourish where it seems nothing can grow."
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Still Summer

"Skillfully employing the language, imagination and character that literary fiction demands, [Gunning] illuminates a fascinating moment in our past."
Washington Post Book World
Read an excerpt from Bound, and learn more about the author and her work at Sally Gunning's website.

The Page 69 Test: Bound.

--Marshal Zeringue