Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bound by Sally Gunning

Title: Bound
Author: Sally Gunning
ISBN: 9780061240263, Harper Collins, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: B

First Line: For a time Alice remembered the good and forgot the bad, but after a while she remembered the bad and then had to forget everything to get rid of it; when it came back it came back in bits, like the pieces in a month-old stew-- all the same gray color and smelling like sick, not one thing whole in the entire kettle.

Alice Cole was seven years old when she and her family boarded the ship to America in 1756. By the time the ship docked, Alice and her father were the only two of the family left alive. Without a backward glance, Alice's father gave her over to John Morton as an indentured servant. It was the only way he had to pay off the debt of their passage.

Fortunately the next eight years were relatively good ones for Alice. She was treated like a member of the Morton family and believed she was a friend to the daughter of the house. But when Nabby Morton is married and the two girls move into Emery Verley's house, fifteen-year-old Alice finds herself the victim of sexual abuse by Nabby's husband. Having no recourse, Alice manages to stow away on a ship headed for Boston where she eventually finds herself living with the Widow Berry (last seen in Gunning's novel The Widow's War). The world has taught Alice to mistrust everyone's motives. Will she be able to learn to trust the Widow Berry?

Sally Gunning's historical novels, The Widow's War and Bound are a treat to read. The setting and period detail put me right in the action with the characters. Whereas Gunning shows us the plight of widows in eighteenth century America in The Widow's War, she tackles the subject of indentured servants in Bound.

In many ways the lives of indentured servants were even worse than those of slaves. Slave owners had made an investment in their slaves, and it was good business sense to see that they were fed and clothed properly. Since indentured servants were only going to be around for a prescribed length of time, it wasn't unusual for those who owned their indenture papers to spend as little on them as possible. All too many indentured servants found themselves worked hard and fed very little.

To see this practice through the eyes of a young girl is illuminating. Many a time I wanted to shake some sense into Alice as she made one wrong decision after another, but I had to make myself stop and realize that she was very young and had no reason at all to trust anyone. The only person she knew she could rely on was herself. The Widow Berry had years of bad lessons to overcome with Alice, and as the pages turned in Bound, I really wanted to see how it would all turn out.

If you like well-written stories set in colonial New England that have strong characters, excellent period detail and a smoothly plotted story line, give Sally Gunning a try!


  1. It sounds like a fantastic book. I am really interested in the plight of the English as they sailed to America. I love to read about the pilgrims and the Mayflower. Great review.

  2. I'm going to start A WIDOW'S WAR shortly and your review has definitely given me something to look forward to!

  3. Thanks for sharing Sally Gunning. She's one of those authors I'd heard of but hadn't triend yet. I'm motivated now!! :)

  4. I don't read nearly enough books about colonial New England or just colonial America. I really want to though and this author seems like the one to go for. Great review Cathy!

  5. I really just want to tell you that you are costing me fortune!! keep reading about books/authors in your blog, and just have to go buy the book, or a few........

    However- as I have enjoyed them all -I will thank you instead, and keep reading your blog - though need new book case or 2 now

    Jackie xx

  6. Its funny how most of the posts I've been reading today on my little tour around the book-blogger-world has been historical novels. So even though I think you have written a fabulous review, I will repeat what I have already said a number of times today, that I do not really read historical novels. It is a while ago at least.

  7. I like that this author is not just telling a story but adding the causes of widows and indentured servants.

  8. This book looks wonderful! Thanks for reviewing! I had not heard of this one.

  9. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one too!

  10. Terrific review! Thank you. I will be reading this someday. What a gorgeous cover too!


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