Summary (from Goodreads):
“A heart-stopping tale as provocative as is suspenseful, about two conflicted women, separated by one hundred years, and bound by an unthinkable sacrifice.
The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.
Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it.
On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.
As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences.”
This is a ghost story that isn’t at all scary. (So basically it’s a ghost story for people who are pretty sure they don’t actually want to read a ghost story.)
It’s told from altering perspectives (Bridget in present day; Rebecca in the early 1900s) and each are women who are married with young children. Bridget’s marriage is happy; Rebecca’s much less so. The story deals with the sacrifices the women are (and are not) making for their families.
I think there’s a lot here to discuss and I would especially be interested in how people view Rebecca. She’s not a very sympathetic character (at all) but I found myself liking her almost against my will.
I enjoyed this book but at the same time, it was very much a middle of the road read. It’s not something I NEEDED to read, the kind of book where I had to keep going (instead of stopping to eat or sleep) but at the same time, I very much enjoyed the characters and my time with them. Does that make sense? I’m interested to see what Siobhan Adcock does next; I have a feeling she’s going to become a must-read author of mine but she’s not there yet.