Since a local book discussion group has picked “Caleb’s Crossing” for their October meeting, I decided to reread my thoughts from two years ago.
How does a Pilgrim girl who is confined to housework and cooking and not allowed to learn, despite being smarter than her brother, survive in colonial America? In Caleb’s Crossing, Geraldine Brooks follows Bethia Mayfield’s life on a small colonial island, now Martha’s Vineyard, in the 1660s as she befriend’s a boy from the local Native American Wampanoag tribe, secretly listens to her brother’s lessons, and goes about doing what was appropriate for girls in those days.
Although Brooks titled her book after Caleb, the Native American who learns to read, speak in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, English, attends Harvard, and ultimately leaves behind his own native life – hence the “crossing over,” the story is really about Bethia, renamed “Storm Eyes” by Caleb. As Bethia narrates the action, rereading her notes as an old woman on her deathbed, the difficult life of a woman during that time emerges. Not…
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