Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

My first experience reading Geraldine Brooks was Year of Wonders: a novel of the plague.This was Ms. Brooks first fiction writing and I was immediately impressed with her style. The author took an obscure historical fact and created a narrative with realistic characters, setting, etc. I was looking forward to reading more by the author and the next two books, March and People of the Book, did not disappoint me. Her latest novel is Caleb’s Crossing. This story begins in 1660 on Noepe, now known as Martha’s Vineyard. We meet the main characters, Caleb Cheeshateaumuck and Bethia Mayfield, the narrator of the story. Caleb is a member of the Wampanoag people and the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. Bethia is the daughter of a minister and longs for the kind of education that is only available to males. In 1661, both Bethia and Caleb, as well as others from Great Harbor (Edgartown), are in Cambridge receiving their various educations. At the end of a year the story leaps forward to 1715 back on the island and the intervening years are summarized. The details in Brooks’ books make them come alive. Although there is a lot of research behind each of her novels they are not academic in tone, but are entertaining to read. I’m looking forward to whatever topic she tackles next.

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