By Linda Spalding
Pantheon, $25.95, 320 pages
Daniel is a devout Quaker until faced with his wife, Rebecca’s, death. He is left with five children, one a sickly newborn. Daniel had worked in Rebecca’s family business and knows nothing about manual labor. After Daniel brings an orphan girl into the family to help care for the kids and decides he should marry her, Rebecca’s family and the Quaker governing authority, ban him from the sect. Daniel must leave the group and ends up in Virginia with little money, belongings or know-how about farming. Daniel is against slavery but ends of purchasing a slave boy to help on the farm. The community distrusts Quakers and their ways and Daniel is met with lots of resistance. Daniel is tested time and time again wondering whether survival must go against his beliefs. At the same time, his children are growing up and trying to find their place in society, including possible unsuitable marriages.
Spalding writes in detail about how difficult pioneering really was in the early 1800s. It is amazing anyone was able to survive. This reviewer felt the characters’ pain and challenges as Daniel and his family was met with many struggles along the way in this gripping and interesting story.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff