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by Sally Cabot Gunning

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Alice Cole spent her first seven years living in two smoky, crowded rooms in London with her family. But a new home and a better life waited in the colonies, or so her father promised—a bright dream that turned to ashes when her brothers and mother took ill and died during the arduous voyage. Arriving in New England unable to meet the added expenses incurred


Alice Cole spent her first seven years living in two smoky, crowded rooms in London with her family. But a new home and a better life waited in the colonies, or so her father promised—a bright dream that turned to ashes when her brothers and mother took ill and died during the arduous voyage. Arriving in New England unable to meet the added expenses incurred by their misfortunes at sea, her father bound Alice into servitude to pay his debts.

By the age of fifteen, Alice can barely remember the time when she was not a servant to John Morton and his daughter, Nabby. Though work fills her days, life with the Mortons is pleasant; Mr. Morton calls Alice his "sweet, good girl," and Nabby, only three years older, is her friend, companion, and now newly married, her mistress.

But Nabby's marriage is not happy, and soon Alice is caught up in its storm; seeing nothing ahead but her own destruction, she defies her new master and the law and runs away to Boston. There she meets a sympathetic widow named Lyddie Berry and her lawyer companion, Eben Freeman. Frightened and alone, Alice impulsively stows away on their ship to Satucket on Cape Cod, where the Widow Berry offers Alice a bed and a job making cloth in support of the new boycott of British wool and linen.

At Widow Berry's, Alice believes her old secret is safe, until it becomes threatened by a new one. As the days pass, the political and the personal stakes rise and intertwine, ultimately setting off a chain of events that will force Alice to question all she thought she knew. Bound by law, society, and her own heart, Alice soon discovers that freedom—as well as gratitude, friendship, trust, and love—has a price far higher than any she ever imagined.

Library Journal hailed Sally Gunning's previous novel, The Widow's War, as "historical fiction at its best." With Bound, this wonderfully talented writer returns to pre-Revolutionary New England and evokes a long-ago time filled with uncertainty, hardship, and promise.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Gunning's latest colonial page-turner, seven-year-old Alice Cole travels with her family from 1756 London to the New World, dreaming of a big house in Philadelphia and a new life. Her mother and brothers die on board and are buried at sea; the ship docks in Boston rather than Philadelphia; there, her father indentures her for 11 years without a backward glance. Alice does housework for the family of Simeon Morton of Dedham, in whose house she is treated almost like a second daughter, becoming constant companion to 10-year-old Abigail, or "Nabby." When Nabby marries Emery Verley of Medfield, Alice's indenture is signed over to him, but the Verley household turns out to be an abusive one. Alice flees and winds up on Satucket, Cape Cod, where Lyddie Berry, heroine of Gunning's The Widow's War, and her companion, the lawyer Eben Freeman, give her shelter and a job. Alice works hard for them, and they grow fond of her, but when Alice discovers she's pregnant, she embarks on a journey of deceit and lies, one that comes to a bitter end. Gunning weaves a horrifying, spellbinding story of colonial indenture's cruelties and a meditation on the meaning of freedom. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

Gunning reprises many of the characters from her 2006 novel, The Widow's War, in this suspenseful and engaging look at the New England colonies in the decades immediately preceding the American Revolution. Richly detailed and impeccably researched, the novel focuses on the life of Alice Cole, beginning with her arrival in Massachusetts as a seven-year-old child. In short order, Alice's father indentures her, forcing the girl to spend 11 years working to pay off a family debt. While her first taskmaster is kind, teaching her to read, write, and calculate, the second is not. A rape occurs, and Alice flees to Cape Cod, where she finds refuge and employment with a widow and her on-again/off-again boarder. Life, however, is far from simple, and the ensuing drama forces the now-adolescent Alice to grapple with what it means to pursue personal freedom. What's more, as she struggles to integrate past and present, the era's sexual politics and religious and political fervor come alive. The result is moving, compelling, and beautifully wrought; highly recommended for historical fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ12/08.]
—Eleanor Bader

Kirkus Reviews
A young indentured servant in pre-Revolutionary War Massachusetts escapes her brutal master and begins a new life on Cape Cod in Gunning's sequel to her well-received The Widow's War (2006). Seven-year-old Alice Cole's destitute father sells her into indentured servitude and disappears from her life in 1756, as soon as they arrive in Boston after a harrowing passage from London. Mr. Morton is a benevolent master and his daughter Nabby becomes Alice's friend. When Nabby marries, Alice, now 15, goes with Nabby to complete her last three years of servitude. But because pre-Revolutionary law states that a husband owns everything his wife brings to the marriage, Nabby's husband, Mr. Verley, now owns Alice. Verley is a monster of barely believable proportions, raping Alice repeatedly while making sure Nabby knows and grows jealous. After a vicious beating that leaves her cheek scarred, Alice escapes. She stows away on a ship to Cape Cod, where she is taken in by the plucky, generous widow Liddy Berry. Liddy's boarder Eben Freeman is a lawyer, deeply involved in fighting the unfair taxes Britain has begun imposing on the colonies. Liddy and Alice begin a weaving business to replace imported British cloth. Readers of Gunning's earlier book will know that Liddy and Eben have more than a friendship going, but Alice has no clue. When Alice realizes Verley impregnated her, she tries, unsuccessfully, to hide her condition. When her baby dies shortly after birth, Alice is charged with murder and fornication. Eben helps clear her, but she then must face charges in Boston as a runaway slave. Alice is a mix of conniving and innocence, and her relationship with Liddy and Eben has intriguing undertones, butthe lesser characters remain caricatures. Painting in broader strokes this time around, Gunning never adequately integrates her history lesson with the sexual intrigue. Agent: Andrea Cirillo/Jane Rotrosen Agency
Feminist Review
“This book, eloquently written and exhaustively researched, is a warning along the lines of The Handmaid’s Tale, and just as necessary a read.”
Midwest Book Review
“A well written, thought provoking mid-eighteenth century thriller.”
Boston Globe
“Historical fiction at its very best…Impeccably researched, this story is spellbinding, giving a realistic view of life in 18th-century coastal New England.”
Feminist Review on BOUND
“This book, eloquently written and exhaustively researched, is a warning along the lines of The Handmaid’s Tale, and just as necessary a read.”

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A Novel

Chapter One

March 1756

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.

First was the ship. Alice had lived her first seven years of life in London before she got aboard the ship, and if she hadn't got aboard she imagined she might have remembered better those early years of her life, but the ship and what came after it took away all but a few brown heaps of London ash and dirt. She remembered helping her mother to hang the wash on the fence; she remembered learning to pump the foot wheel to twist fine linen fibers into thread; she remembered constantly sweeping lint and bark and wood chips from under her father's bootheels as he sat and smoked and talked about the ship.

It seemed to Alice that her father talked about the ship a long time before they ever got on it. Alice's two older brothers joined in with excited jabber about great stiff sails, sturdy beams, and wide, salted oceans, but Alice watched her mother's face and stayed quiet. Her mother's face had clouded at the word ship and stayed so through all her father's and brothers' happy clamor; Alice saw the face but didn't understand it. As her father described it, leaving two rooms full of smoke and damp for a fine house new-made by his own hand in a place called Philadelphia seemed to promise a life as big as the word.But after a time Alice stopped looking at her motherwhen her father and brothers began their talk of the ship, and when the cart finally came to collect them she was hanging on the windowsill in the same eagerness as her brothers.

Alice's mother held her tight on her lap through the whole cart ride; when they drew up onto the wharf and saw the ship looming in front of them, Alice's mother said, "Don't be afraid, Alice," but Alice wasn't. She squirmed out of her mother's quivering fingers and chased after her brothers up the gangway. The deck of the ship seemed nothing but a large, fenced yard covered with boards, except that it groaned and creaked and swayed back and forth like the pendulum on a clock she had once seen at the magistrate's.

A man wearing both hat and kerchief on his head led them down a narrow, laddered passage into what he called the " 'tween decks"; there Alice entertained herself looking at strange faces and listening to strange tongues as her mother hung a curtain around a row of bunks no wider than a set of dough trays. Alice had only just sorted the people around her into families when the tramp of feet overhead grew louder and the creaking and groaning of the ship grew stronger. The deck below her feet began to slant, a little and then a little more, and a collection of cries sprung up around them: "We're away! We sail!"

A small child wailed. A woman. Another. Alice looked at her mother and saw her eyes brim. Alice returned to her study of the oddly dressed, strangely gabbling people around her and felt herself well entertained until they began losing their stomachs.

Alice's mother was the first in their family to turn the color of paste and go up to the rail; by the time she returned, half a dozen small children had already washed the 'tween deck with their vomit. Alice's brothers went next, and last Alice, too sick to notice anything around her; when she returned below, the boards beneath her feet had already turned slick, the air sour and rancid, and the strange families that had amused Alice not long before now seemed too close, too loud, too familiar.

After a time Alice's mother couldn't raise herself to climb the companionway to the deck, and Alice, who had stopped getting sick first, was assigned to run up and down with the bucket. Her first trip above in health amazed her. She could look around her now and saw the sails were indeed great and stiff as her brothers had said, the beams indeed sturdy, the ocean indeed wider than anything Alice had ever seen or imagined. The air off the deck felt like a cool, damp hand on Alice's hot forehead; she breathed it in as far as it would go and held on to it through her return below as long as she was able.

With each trip above Alice noticed that the wind blew harder, which Alice's father told her was a good thing because it would push them faster to Philadelphia, but Alice thought it good because it built white- topped mountains out of fl at seawater and crashed them on deck in great snow showers. But after a time Alice's father took the bucket from her and wouldn't let her go on the deck anymore; she heard him whisper to her mother of a young boy who had been swept overboard, to which Alice's mother replied, "Lucky boy," a remark Alice didn't understand and which her father wouldn't explain to her.

At last Alice's mother's stomach settled, but she began to run as if from a physic, and the brothers too, the stink of their running worse than the stink of the vomit. Alice begged to go out on the deck and cried, which only caused her father to slap her and tell her to go clean up her brothers, so she gave up crying. By now Alice felt well enough to be quite hungry, but the meat they gave her to eat was so salted that she was in great thirst every minute and the water so black and thick she didn't like to drink it.

There came a row of days of much the same grayness, where it seemed that everyone but Alice and her father lay sick and moaning, but after a time a few of the men began to raise themselves, and the talk began, at first in a low rumble and then in something louder, with shouting in it. Alice strayed close enough to listen and learned that the wind had come around from the wrong direction, blowing so hard that the captain had ordered the crew to take down sail, which made them drift far off their course for Philadelphia. Some of the men wanted to turn back to London but some didn't, and Alice's father finally shouted at them that they might as well stop jawing because the captain wasn't going to turn around on account of a few days' short rations. It was true that the salt meat had run out, but Alice didn't mind because her tongue and lips had begun to blister from it and even though the biscuit they gave her had bugs in it that she had to pick out and snap between her fingers.

Alice's mother was the first to get fevered; she moaned and called out whenever the waves smashed the ship and knocked her about. One of the men yelled at Alice's father to shut her up, and Alice's father hit the man in the face, so other men had to push Alice's father to the ground until he quieted. The brothers' fevers came on next, one fast upon the other, but they made no noise at all, which disturbed Alice as much as her mother's cries.

After a time a surgeon traveling in one of the above cabins came down into the 'tween decks with some bottles of medicine; Alice's father took out his money pouch and bought a bottle of it; the next day he bought another, but it didn't help them. The following day he paid the surgeon to bleed Alice's mother and brothers, but that didn't help them, either.

Alice's mother died first. Alice's father carried her up the companionway, telling Alice to stay with her brothers, but Alice followed her father and watched from the hatchway as a sailor with a missing finger and one with a broken tooth took her mother out of her father's arms and threw her overboard into the water.

After that Alice's father grew quiet; Alice had to tell him when her brothers died, near together, two days after. Alice watched them go over the side too, imagining her mother catching them and calling them lucky boys as she'd called the boy who'd been swept overboard near the start of the voyage.

Another long, gray period dropped down until a morning when a great disturbance woke her from sleep; she opened her eyes to see people sick and well laughing and shouting and pushing for the companionway. " 'Tis land!" "Land sighted!"

Alice and her father went up on deck with all the others; after a time Alice saw a fl at, brown crescent dotted with low hills and a smattering of little steeples, but everyone cried with joy at the sight of it, except her father, who cried but did not look joyful in it. Alice didn't feel like crying, but neither did she feel joyful, so she stood silent and clung to the rail, peering over at what she had thought was Philadelphia but soon learned was someplace else called Boston.

The ship sailed past many little islands into the harbor, toward the brown crescent, which Alice could now see was rimmed by buildings, little dots of things, nothing like the walls of brick and stone that framed the river at London. A smaller boat rowed out to meet them, and the ship was towed until it could be tied up snug against a long wharf that stuck out deep into the water. The captain shouted the sailors into lines to fold the sails while Alice busied herself watching the carts and carriages and people moving along the wharf, trying to find out if these people were different from the ones in London.

After a time Alice's father took her hand and led her back to the companionway. Down below, one of the ship's men walked among the passengers too sick to go on deck and wrote things in a log; quite often someone would shout weakly at him but he never shouted back, only answering in a fl at voice before moving to the next person. Alice's father stood for some time in silence, watching the man, and then dropped Alice's hand. "I must go talk with that fellow. Put our things together, Alice."

Alice changed her dirty shift for one that was a little cleaner; she put on the least worn of her two dresses and packed the other things in the trunk on top of her mother's shoes and stockings and shawl, which her father had removed before he'd seen her into the water. She added the pair of pewter mugs and plates, the three blankets, her father's tobacco pouch, and some papers he'd been looking at before land had been sighted. She watched her father as he talked to the man; she could hear her father's voice well enough, but not the man's quiet answers. She moved closer.

"Like I told you," the man said. "Dead after half the voyage still means full fare."

"The girl's but seven."

"Seven's still half fare."

"Then I'd like you to tell me what surgeon charges ten shillings for a bloody bottle of piss and a bleeding I'd have done better with a marlin spike!"

"That you take up with the surgeon."

The man walked off. Alice's father returned to Alice. He looked at the air above her a long time, but after a time he drew his eyes down and took her in from top to bottom, as if he weren't sure how she'd happened to come along on the ship with him. He said, "Wash your face. Comb your hair. Brush up that dress and stay here till I collect you." He disappeared up the companionway.

Alice did as her father said; as she waited for him to return she looked around and noticed others doing much as her father had told her to do. A mother spit on the corner of her skirt and rubbed her wasted children's faces; a near- grown girl yanked a comb through a smaller girl's hair; a girl Alice's age picked at a crust on the seat of her brother's breeches.

Alice's father came back and kicked the trunk. Alice remembered that -- he kicked the trunk -- but she couldn't remember that he said any words to her. Later she thought there were some words she'd forgotten; later again she thought there were no words what ever. He took her hand, led her up on deck to a line of worn- down, bleachedout passengers, and pushed her onto the end of it. After a time a stream of finely dressed men and ladies walked up the gangway and down the line of passengers, looking them over with what seemed to Alice an odd amount of interest. One lady stopped at Alice and felt her arm. A gentleman told her to open her mouth. Another lifted her skirt. One man with a locked knee asked Alice's age and then moved off, so Alice didn't think of him any more than another, but after a time he came back and asked if Alice's father was her father, and when her father said he was, the man asked him a lot of questions, which Alice's father answered in a high, tight voice Alice hadn't heard in him before. She's the healthiest on the whole ship, as you can see for yourself, sir. She's quick and she's good behaved, and she can spin and use a tape loom, if someone sets the web for her. She'll not give you a sorry day, I promise you that, sir.

The man with the locked knee waved Alice's father out of the line, and they disappeared into the after cabin. When they returned, Alice's father had a paper in his hand, which he folded and pushed into his money pouch. He tied the pouch around Alice's neck. "You're to live with Mr. Morton now. Do as he tells you. Remember God. And keep hold of that paper."

Mr. Morton took Alice's hand and led her to the gangway. "Grab onto the rope, child. Watch your feet." Alice grabbed onto the rope and watched her feet, but once she landed on the dock she twisted around, looking for her father. Mr. Morton pulled her along, but she continued to twist, looking over the feeble string of passengers stumbling onto the wharf, not finding her father in them. Mr. Morton led her to a dusty carriage and boosted her into the seat; from there Alice had a better view and after a time she spied her father pushing their trunk into the back of a rough wagon. He climbed in after the trunk; three other men Alice recognized from the ship climbed in after him; the wagon clattered into the road heading into the sun so that the wagon and the men became nothing but a sharp black lump against the sky. Mr. Morton moved his carriage into the road and moved off with the sun behind him.

A Novel
. Copyright © by Sally Gunning. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sally Gunning lives on Cape Cod with her husband.

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Bound 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Bound: A Novel' written by Sally Gunning 'The Widow's War' and published by William Morrow is a fictional accounting of Alice Cole and her journey from England to the American colonies. Learn how Alice goes from being a free 7 year old child with a father, to that of an indentured servant,or slave. An eye opening and thoroughly absorbing story told during the pre-Revolutionary years of 1756 to 1765, from Boston to Cape Cod. Alice's father is forced, after the deaths of her Mother and brothers at sea, to put her in indentured servitude for 11 years. Her first family is a loving family that sees to her needs while she works off her service. The daughter, Nabby marries and Alice's service papers are transferred to Nabbies husband who then starts to abuse Alice. Alice manages to escape and finds herself working with/for Lyddie Berry 'see THE WIDOW'S WAR' and her companion Eben Freeman. Shown kindness for the first time, Alice starts to relax into the day to dayness of it all. Until a secret Alice holds close to her heart ruins everything. History and law, in this pre-revolutionary time, comes alive under Ms Gunnings clever story weaving, as she wraps the truth of the times with the fiction of one persons 'story'. This tale could have been told as a maudlin tear jerker, yet, refreshingly it was not. I do hope that as third book will make it's way from Ms Gunning's pen to let us know more about Nate 'an important secondary character' and how his life unfolded after Bound ended. This was a thought provoking, eye -opening, enjoyable 'albeit sad' read of the times and lives of our forefathers and if you are a fan of Historical Fiction, this is a book you will be sure to want to include in your library.
yodapooper More than 1 year ago
If you read the widow's war then this is the follow up to that book and I loved this one too!! I suppose it's all in what you enjoy reading. It has it all, location and substance which held my interest completely. Give it a try. You won't be sorry.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Bound Sally Gunning Morrow, Apr 2008, $24.95 ISBN 9780061240256 With the family patriarch in the colonies, the rest of the Coles travel from London to the New World to join him in 1756. During the harsh sea voyage, seven year old Alice watches her mom and brothers die. In Boston her father rids himself of the burden of raising her by indenturing her for the next eleven years to the Morton family of Dedham. Alice does housework, but is treated like a daughter for the most part by her Morton owners. She and ten-years-old Abigail 'Nabby' Morton become friends. When Nabby marries Emery Verley of Medfield, her parents transfer her indenture contract to their new son-in-law. However, she is treated with disdain and abuse so she runs away. She makes it to Cape Cod where Lyddie Berry (see THE WIDOW¿S WAR) and her companion Eben Freeman shower her with kindness and give her a home and a job. Everything looks good until Alice realizes she is pregnant. =--- BOUND is an insightful look back at the horrors of the late colonial period¿s indentured servant system that included selling children into servitude. Readers will be stunned by the horrors of what happens to Alice in her second assignment. In many ways a cautionary tale that claims economics often trumps freedom especially for impoverished people, Sally Gunning provides a well written thought provoking mid eighteenth century thriller. =--- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love my Nook and would love to read the book, as I liked The Widows War, but I am deeply saddened by the cost. When I did not have the Nook, I could buy best sellers for $5.97 and $7.99 (paperback)! So I end up going to the Wal Mart to make a book purchase and sort of defeats the purpose of the Nook. I wish you would consider the remarks that are being made by your "Nook" readers.
JoeRous More than 1 year ago
Captivating. A wonderful read.
honeygrams5 More than 1 year ago
Gunning has captured the trials and events that were present during the war. Alice is the indentured servant that lives the trials that women faced without a family. The writing is from her point of view and moves along. A great summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sally gunning is my fav now, this is a sequel to the widows war and just as great as that one was. thanks will be looking for more from sally
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When will Barnes & Noble get it?! They are losing sales of both the Nook and their eBooks with these prices?!
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