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Caleb's Crossing | [Geraldine Brooks]

Caleb's Crossing

In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex....
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Publisher's Summary

A richly imagined new novel from the author of the New York Times best seller People of the Book. Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life.

In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure. The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At 12, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.

Like Brooks' beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists.

©2011 Geraldine Brooks (P)2011 Penguin

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (635 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Leonore Johnson City, TN, United States 03-13-12
    Leonore Johnson City, TN, United States 03-13-12 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    "Half-Way Through and Bored to Tears"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No. I repeatedly listened to it in case I had missed something important, but I had not missed anything.


    What could Geraldine Brooks have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The book is well-written but boring and contrived. I cannot get interested in the characters or the plot.


    What didn’t you like about Jennifer Ehle’s performance?

    Many people criticize the narrator, but I cannot find fault with her since the absence of substance is what irks me.


    Did Caleb's Crossing inspire you to do anything?

    It inspired me never to read another book by Geraldine Brooks. She may be overrated.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the only book out of the last 25 that have bored me to tears. Geraldine Brooks writes well about characters that do not interest a reader. The book is slow and reads more like a romance novel than a work of literature.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronda 03-03-12
    Ronda 03-03-12 Member Since 2014

    I love a good murder mystery or any novel where good overcomes evil. Two of my favorite authors are Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.

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    "Geraldine Brooks writes great historical fiction!"

    This is my 2nd Geraldine Brooks novel. I was not disappointed. She presents a somewhat fair view of the early settlers and their interactions with the natives and with each other. At the very least, she writes books that I love to read and discuss with others. She's a book club favorite.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Hermosa Beach, CA, United States 03-02-12
    Scott Hermosa Beach, CA, United States 03-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Another great piece of literature from Brooks"
    What made the experience of listening to Caleb's Crossing the most enjoyable?

    Brooks always conducts thorough research of her topics in order to present as accurate and rich a picture of the time and place as possible. Caleb's Crossing is no exception. She has selected an interesting and difficult time in the early history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Written in the voice of the daughter of a preacher on Martha's Vineyard, she has addressed the issues of religious zealotry, woman's place in that society, inter-class dynamics, and prejudice against Native Americans. She is a truly gifted writer and her characters, although carefully defined by the values and beliefs of the era, are compelling and believable. Like her other books, she manages to connote struggle, tragedy, passion, and redemption. I know some people have an issue with the reader, but Brooks always seems to find the right voice for her stories. I felt Jennifer Ehle was a good choice for this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Smithfield, RI, United States 02-06-12
    Nancy Smithfield, RI, United States 02-06-12

    Nancy B.

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    "Awesome Read"
    What made the experience of listening to Caleb's Crossing the most enjoyable?

    The story captivates you and carries you along right to the end. A thoroughly enjoyable experience.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The relationship between Bethia and Caleb and her immediate acceptance and loyalty to him throughout the story.


    What does Jennifer Ehle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The conversations between people are more alive.


    If you could take any character from Caleb's Crossing out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Bethia.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nell NASHVILLE, TN, United States 01-09-12
    Nell NASHVILLE, TN, United States 01-09-12 Member Since 2011
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    7
    7
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    "A Delightful Way to Explore History"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Caleb's Crossing to be better than the print version?

    Yes. I have a bias in favor of audible editions because of some visual problems, but I would prefer this particular edition in any case.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characterization was superb. I felt an understanding for the Puritanical father even though I disagreed with so many of his convictions. The other characters were presented also in depth.


    What does Jennifer Ehle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The interpretations of each character through her renditions of the voice of each.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would have enjoyed that, but I looked forward to each time I had opportunity to listen as a special treat.


    Any additional comments?

    As my title indicates, the in depth research along with a good fictional adaption provided a great way to gain historical insights.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Lee 12-24-11
    Mary Lee 12-24-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Abandoned Because of the Reader"

    The enunciation of every. single. word. was. so. distracting. that. I. had. to. abandon. the. audio. and. finish the book by reading it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandi Yuma, AZ, United States 10-24-11
    Sandi Yuma, AZ, United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2015
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    "Super strong girl women who dared what if."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes as I know that friends would love this book like I did.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Caleb's Crossing?

    How hard life must have been and the plain make sense part about growing corn.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Minneapolis, MN, United States 10-21-11
    Debra Minneapolis, MN, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Fabulous Story, Stilted Narration"

    The story was wonderfully engaging, despite the stilted pronunciation from the narrator. Brooks' word choice reflects the vocabulary of the era, so it didn't need exaggeration from the narrator, and I found that distracting. Geraldine Brooks always tells a great story, enhanced by historical information and details of the natural world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BEVERLY 10-20-11
    BEVERLY 10-20-11
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    "Facinating & riveting"

    I loved this story. Geraldine Brooks knows how to tell an entrancing story. This is one of my favorite books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Wellesley, MA, United States 10-04-11
    Elizabeth Wellesley, MA, United States 10-04-11 Member Since 2014
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    "narration made the story"

    The narration was an excellent balance between authentic 17th c vernacular and an accessible, understandable 21st c listen. Jennifer Ehle's voice is beautiful, yet firm -- a perfect reflection of the narrator - Bethia - a bright girl chafing under the limitations of 17th c social and economic strictures. I came to the audiobook w/ anticipation from Jennifer Ehle's wonderful performance in Pride and Prejudice, and, surprisingly, in Contagion, and she did not disappoint -- I thought her careful enunciation conveyed the formality of Colonial speech in an understandable way for a modern listener. I also read the book after listening on my walks, and it helped to have heard the unfamiliar Native words and names as I encountered them in print. I thought Geraldine Brooks created a rich story from a history that has very little primary or even secondary source material, and especially enjoyed the addition of the perspective of a Pilgrim girl the same age as the Native boys. My only criticism is that some of the story is kind of soap-opera-y, but maybe the author is anticipating a movie? The book inspired me to visit Martha's Vineyard and Aquinnah, and I got a deep sense of the landscape from Brooks' narrative -- even with the tourist trappings around it, the cliffs and meadows and hills are spectacular -- you really appreciate the home Caleb and Joel left when they "crossed over."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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