The new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks, author of the Richard and Judy bestseller 'March', Sunday Times bestseller 'Year of Wonders' and 'People of the Book'. Martha's Vineyard, 1650s: Bethia Mayfield is a young girl growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor, amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless, bright ...
The new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks, author of the Richard and Judy bestseller 'March', Sunday Times bestseller 'Year of Wonders' and 'People of the Book'. Martha's Vineyard, 1650s: Bethia Mayfield is a young girl growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor, amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless, bright and curious, but denied the education that her brothers receive, she slips away as often as she can to explore the island's wild landscapes and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At the age of twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the children form a secret friendship that gradually draws each into the alien world of the other. Meanwhile, Bethia's minister father is trying to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. And when he takes it upon himself to educate Caleb, it will further divide the communities - within a year the boy is learning Latin and Greek, and leaves the island to study at Harvard. As Caleb makes the crossing into white culture, Bethia 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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Well researched, fact filled, and written for inclusion of 17th century language, religious mores, personal interactions of life centered on a narrow interpretation of Christianity with intent to convert Native Americans. However, development of heroine's character appears too contrived, her role overly stressed, perhaps naively so, to bear witness to Caleb becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard.
May 25, 2013
Great historical Fiction
This book shows that times have not changed very much in how "we" treat different groups in our society. I picked this book up accidentally and then recommended it to 2 different book cubs to which I belong. The members of each group had lively discussions about the book- although not everyone enjoyed it. I found it a great read and it showed much about the early life in Massachusetts and the difference between what is preached and what is done!
Publishers Weekly, 2011-03-14 Pulitzer Prize-winner Brooks (for March) delivers a splendid historical inspired by Caleb Cheeshahteaumauck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. Brooks brings the 1660s to life with evocative period detail, intriguing characters, and a compelling story narrated by Bethia Mayfield, the outspoken daughter of a Calvinist preacher. While exploring the island now known as Martha's Vineyard, Bethia meets Caleb, a Wampanoag native to the island, and they become close, clandestine friends. After Caleb loses most of his family to smallpox, he begins to study under the tutelage of Bethia's father. Since Bethia isn't allowed to pursue education herself, she eavesdrops on Caleb's and her own brother's lessons. Caleb is a gifted scholar who eventually travels, along with Bethia's brother, to Cambridge to continue his education. Bethia tags along and her descriptions of 17th-century Cambridge and Harvard are as entertaining as they are enlightening (Harvard was founded by Puritans to educate the "English and Indian youth of this country," for instance). With Harvard expected to graduate a second Martha's Vineyard Wampanoag Indian this year, almost three and a half centuries after Caleb, the novel's publication is particularly timely. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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