The Barter

A life spent at home with one's child can bring intense joy... but at what cost? In Siobhan Adcock's debut novel, The Barter, two women--one on a farm in 1902 and the other in present-day Texas--are confronted with this question as they struggle to find fulfillment in their quiet but far-from-tranquil lives.

The former, Rebecca, left a comfortable life in the city to help her hardworking husband manage a farm. Despite her admiration for him, there is a poisonous strain of resentment between them that neither party quite understands. The latter, Bridget, left her career as an attorney to care for her baby. While her husband works, she faces a truly inexplicable threat: a ghost, amorphous and smelling of old earth, roams silently through her suburban home. Bridget and her baby are the only witnesses to the haunting, which raises questions about the struggling mother's sanity.

In a sense, whether the ghost is real is both urgent and irrelevant; it is the driving force that propels the plot, and at the same time it's a tangential issue, seeming simply to echo larger mysteries about the nature of anxiety, fear and unhappiness. As The Barter alternates between the two women's stories, their connection slowly becomes clear. Among other similarities, they both suffer from a sort of indefinable anxiety. Like a specter, their pain is formless, impossible to pin down--appearing to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. But as the women learn, happiness can also be mysterious, and even love can sometimes be disguised as a threat. --Annie Atherton

Powered by: Xtenit