Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Reading Challenge 2014: The Barter by Siobahn Adcock #FRC2014

This fall, members of the Vise Library are going back to school by participating in a Fall Reading Challenge. We have received copies of several books from publishers for honest reviews. We hope that you enjoy these reviews (and books)!

The book for our Intro to Ghost Studies class is The Barter by Siobahn Adcock.

About the book:

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 book is basically two stories within one title.  The two stories are similar in the sense that they each have a love story, a strained marriage, and revolve around two mothers.  However the stories are about 100 years apart from each other.  The story that is set in the early 1900s is about Rebecca, her husband, John and their son, Matthew.  After Rebecca has Matthew she begins to see life differently and her sole focus is on Matthew.  The later story is about Bridget and Mark and their infant daughter, Julie.  Bridget was an attorney, but has now decided to be a stay at home mom.  In the very beginning of the story, Bridget not only sees a ghost (the ghost is Rebecca), but smells the ghost as well.  Bridget believes that Julie is able to see the ghost also.  However, Mark cannot see the ghost.  This puts quite a strain (among other issues) on their relationship.

As you read about these two stories you realize how similar they are and how each woman struggles with something.  Those struggles are with marriage, a career, motherhood, and who they are themselves.  This book is very descriptive and engaging.  You realize that this is more than a ghost story and can be heartbreaking at times.  I think I liked Bridget's side of the story the best.  You will enjoy this book and all the things these characters have to offer! 

Buy the book:
·        Amazon Kindle:

·        Amazon Hardcover:

Praise for the book:

"Eerie and atmospheric, this psychological thriller will twist its way into readers' psyches." - Booklist

"Suspenseful debut." - Publishers Weekly

The Barter is a delightful and utterly unique portrait of parenthood across the ages. Siobhan Adcock manages to express what is inexpressible about motherhood and marriage, deftly capturing the banal and the divine, the give and the take. As funny, profound, otherworldly, and terrifying as love itself, this is a debut novel not to be missed.” –Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklynand How Far is the Ocean From Here 

“Absolutely outstanding. The Barter is a ghost story haunted by love, a love story haunted by ghosts, and a literary mystery propelled by the unsaid secrets of marriage and motherhood. In Adcock's world, you won't know whether it's fear, love, or outright beauty making your heart beat like a drum. You won't know, and you won't care at all. You'll just have to keep reading.”
–Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River and The Cradle
“Reading The Barter is like standing at the edge of an abyss: deep, dark, and terrifying, it is also a gripping and exhilarating story about fear, courage, and the demands and sacrifices of love. An enthralling page-turner of a novel that had me on the edge of my seat from the first page and continued to haunt me after the last.” –Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country 

“Siobhan Adcock takes a very contemporary question – can women ever really “have it all” or are trade-offs invariably exacted? – and examines it through the startling prism of a ghost story. Part comedy of manners, part historical fiction, and part genuinely creepy page-turner, The Barter casts a lively eye on the sacrifices, willing and involuntary, women make as they endeavor to weave together the heart’s various desires.” --Leah Hager Cohen, author of No Book But the World 

“Siobhan Adcock’s impressive debut is a spellbinding blend of historical fiction and ghost story, made all the more believable—and harrowing—by its realistic depiction of the tenuous balance between fulfillment and sacrifice within a marriage.” —Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival

About the author:

Siobhan Adcock received her MFA in fiction from Cornell University, and her short fiction has appeared in several literary magazines. She has worked as a writer and editor for Epicurious,,, and The Knowm among other digital publishers. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Connect with the author:
·        Twitter:
·        Website:

If you want to find out more about the Fall Reading Challenge and the rest of our course schedule, click our student ID above!

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