The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

The Barter by Siobhan AdcockThe Barter by Siobhan Adcock
Published by Penguin on September 4th 2014
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction, General, Gothic, Historical, Literary
provided by BookSparks


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.

Reading time 5 mins

This book was slow to start but then it picked up. I loved the depth of the characters. Neither of these ladies is in a typical marriage and their stories are interesting, although a bit slow at times. The relationships between these two woman separated by decades have some things in common, they are both lost in their roles as mother and wives. I found The Barter an enjoyable read by about chapter 4. The ghost in this book was not very believable, but I guess everyone’s ghost story is unique.

These woman are both willing to give up something for their children. Bridget is our modern day mom. Bridget has the pressure of money woos and play groups. She has a lot going on as a stay at home mom. I believe a lot of new moms could relate to her story. She struggles to reconnect with her husband after a baby and fit in with the top moms of the neighborhood. Bridget gave up her job as an attorney to raise her daughter. Her husband is absent throughout most of the story, working double time to support his new family. The only thing different for this mom is that she has a ghost living her home. A ghost that her husband can’t see. She is alone in dealing with this thing invading her home.

Rebecca is a woman living in the early 1900’s. Her child rearing looks much different than Bridget’s. She is the daughter to a German immigrant doctor. Rebecca’s mother died shortly after childbirth, so Frau, Rebecca’s father’s cousin, helped raise her. Of the many stories Frau told her, the one of her mother’s bartering an hour of life for her daughter’s happiness troubles Rebecca the most. She contemplates what she would give up for her son’s happiness. Rebecca marries a man she doesn’t especially love and the whole relationship is strained right from the start. Her story was really interesting since her struggles are so different from the modern woman. Daily life is harder and child rearing in this time proves to be much more difficult. Her horrors about the Barter are passed on from her mother.

I was sure by about chapter 2 that the title had nothing to do with the story, and was all about the ghost. I was wrong as this book is all about a Barter. The Barter is with their love for their children. This story about a ghost haunting a new mother is scary. I got a bit sucked into Rebecca’s story as well. The last two chapters left me baffled. After all that these mothers though, went through, and wondered, the story ends abruptly. All the loose ends are tied up by a magician for Rebecca, and a night at a party for Bridget. What happens in these last two chapters is confusing and left me disappointing by this book. If the ghost story was unbelievable, the ending is even more so.

The Barter had some bright spots. I was really torn on how to rate this read. I am left wondering what the Barter in this story actually means and what the author was trying to do with this story. Some people really loved this read. No two people read the same book. Sometimes it takes me a while to digest a story. Now that some time has passed since I read this, I find myself thinking back to the story. It was haunting and the characters are still with me.

My Rating


Praise for The Barter

“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

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I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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