- Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
- Format: Paperback | 320 pages
- Dimensions: 154mm x 232mm x 27mm | 475g
- Publication date: 28 April 2011
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0007367473
- ISBN 13: 9780007367474
- Sales rank: 2,933
The new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks, author of the Richard and Judy bestseller 'March,, 'Year of Wonders, and 'People of the Book,. Caleb's Crossing is inspired by the little known story of the first native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665. Caleb, a Wampanoag from the island of Martha's Vineyard, seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts, grew up in the first generation of Indians to experience contact with English settlers. (The first English settled the island in 1641, to escape the brutal and doctrinaire Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay colony.) The story is told through the eyes of Bethia, daughter of the English minister who educates Caleb in the Latin and Greek he needs in order to enter the college. As Caleb makes the crossing into white culture, Bethia, 14 years old at the novel's opening, finds herself pulled in the opposite direction. Trapped by the narrow strictures of her faith and her gender, she seeks connections with Caleb's world that will challenge her beliefs and set her at odds with her community.
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Geraldine Brooks was born and raised in Australia. After moving to the USA she worked for eleven years on the Wall Street Journal, covering stories from some of the world,s most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. Her first novels 'A Year of Wonders, and 'March have become international bestsellers, the latter earning Brooks the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She lives with her husband and son in rural Virginia and is currently a fellow at Harvard University.
By Louise Marsh 31 Oct 2011
Don't be misled by the title and jacket description of this book.
They will have you believe that Caleb's Crossing is about the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in 1665.
Don't get me wrong - this is central to the story and is the reason Geraldine Brooks wrote this book.
However, alongside it is the equally powerful story of the book's narrator, Bethia Mayfield, and her detailed account of life as a woman in the mid-17th Century.
I love historical fiction and also recommend two of Brooks' previous books:
* People of the Book: A book lover's delight - a book that tells the story of a centuries old book.
* Year of Wonders: The story of an English housemaid and her village during the 1666 plague.
In Caleb's Crossing, Brooks creates a work of fiction from scant historical fact. She goes to great lengths to recreate the life and times of the era, when Native Americans were commonly referred to as "salvages" and women were required to live in the shadow of men.
She creates a strong contrast between the fiery spirit of Native American traditions and the sobering repression of English Puritan ways.
While I enjoyed the story of Caleb, for me, Bethia's story was the real drawcard of this book.
As she narrates Caleb's story and his "crossing" to English ways, Bethia also introduces us to the issues facing women of her era.
It is saddening to see her sharp wit and intelligence silenced by the prejudices of her time.
It also made me wonder: if women had been able to speak up throughout the ages, how different would the world be that we live in today?
You can read more of my book recommendations at www.thereadingexperiment.com