Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Geraldine Brooks, CALEB'S CROSSING

Another wonderful historical novel from Brooks, this one set in the 1660s on the small island of Noepe (Martha's Vineyard) and at Harvard. Narrated by a Calvinist minister's daughter, Bethia Mayfield, it begins with pages that she writes, from the time she is 15, as she looks back on her friendship with a boy she calls Caleb, a Wampanoag who eventually goes to the "Indian College" at Harvard, created for their conversion. As usual with Brooks, many of her sentences sing: "The tasks stretch out from the gray slough before dawn to the guttered taper of night. ... I love the fogs that wreathe us all in milky veils, and the winds that moan and keen in the chimney piece at night." Caleb's father Tequamuck is a seer who predicts the destruction the Europeans will bring; it's embodied in the brilliant, passionate boy who tries to cross from one culture to the other. Knowing how the story would end didn't matter; I found myself dreading it all the way.

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