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Caleb's Crossing [Hardcover]

Geraldine Brooks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
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Book Description

28 April 2011

The new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks, author of the Richard and Judy bestseller ‘March’, ‘Year of Wonders’ and ‘People of the Book’.

Caleb Cheeshateaumauk was the first native American to graduate from Harvard College back in 1665. ‘Caleb’s Crossing’ gives voice to his little known story. Caleb, a Wampanoag from the island of Martha's Vineyard, seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts, comes of age just as the first generation of Indians come into contact with English settlers, who have fled there, desperate to escape the brutal and doctrinaire Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay colony.

The story is told through the eyes of Bethia, daughter of the English minister who educates Caleb in the Latin and Greek he needs in order to enter the college. 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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Caleb's Crossing + Year of Wonders + People of the Book
Price For All Three: 24.87

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  • Year of Wonders 6.29
  • People of the Book 6.29

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007333536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007333530
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 470,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Geraldine Brooks was born and raised in Australia. After moving to the USA she worked for eleven years on the Wall Street Journal, covering stories from some of the world's most troubled areas, including Bosnia, Somalia and the Middle East. Her first novels 'A Year of Wonders' and 'March have become international bestsellers, the latter earning Brooks the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She lives with her husband and son in rural Virginia and is currently a fellow at Harvard University.

Product Description


Praise for ‘People of the Book’ :

'Brooks expertly guides us to the conclusion that the world is made up of only two types of people: those who would destroy books and those who would give their lives to save them. This illuminating novel, like its predecessor, is well worthy of both Pulitzer and prime-time approbation.' Independent on Sunday

'These stories have a raw and visceral power. The book is full of historical detail.' Naomi Alderman, F.T. Magazine

'An irresistible subject, given urgency by its timeliness and poignancy by its paradoxicality: for the novel is based on the true story of an ancient Jewish codex saved from the fire by a Muslim librarian. Her performance will satisfy many readers.' Guardian

Praise for ‘March’ :

‘Brooks’s considerable historical research for “March” is pleasingly lightly worn. Her efforts have borne a rich fruit. It is a big, generous romp that manages to make clever use of “Little Women” without suffocating beneath it.’ Sunday Times

‘A tightly controlled novel in which, you sense, every sentence has been carefully weighed and calculated, and Brooks successfully balances narrative leanness with luxuriant language. “March” is that rare species: a serious popular novel that is not afraid to grapple with big ideas.’ Waterstones Books Quarterly

'Researched with great historical thoroughness, "March" hews faithfully to the spirit of Alcott's original … Louise May Alcott would be well pleased.' The Economist

About the Author

Geraldine Brooks is the author of three novels, the Pulitzer Prize-winning March and the international bestsellers People of the Book and Year of Wonders. She has also written the acclaimed non fiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, Tony Horwitz, and their two sons.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absorbing and Thought-Provoking Story 5 May 2012
Set in Martha's Vineyard in the 1650s, Geraldine Brooks' latest novel is the story of Bethia, the daughter of a Calvinist minister, member of a settlement of English colonists, and of Caleb, a Native American and son of a chieftain. Bethia grows up in the tiny settlement at Great Harbor and, although she is bright and is literate, she is, like most females of the time, denied the education that is given to her brother. However this allows Bethia more free time and she escapes whenever she can to enjoy the landscape and to watch the native inhabitants of the island. When Bethia is twelve years old, she meets Caleb who shares with her his knowledge of the natural world and, in return, she introduces him to the pleasure of books. And so starts a friendship that will have lasting consequences for both Bethia and Caleb and for those close to them - especially when Bethia's father decides to educate Caleb causing a rift between the communities on the island and particularly when Caleb feels he must change himself and adopt English ways in order to help his people. There is a huge amount more to this story which has many layers to it concerning issues of gender, race and religion but that is for prospective readers to discover.

This book is beautifully written and, in Bethia, Geraldine Brooks has created a very likeable heroine and she has taken great care (as she states in her Afterword) to try and capture the expressions and vocabulary that a young woman of Bethia's class, upbringing and beliefs might have used. 'Caleb's Crossing' is inspired by a true story (Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk was the first Native American to attend Harvard College in 1660) but the author has used her imagination to great effect to produce a marvellous story that is fascinating, thought-provoking and very absorbing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book 14 Dec 2011
Don't be misled by the title and jacket description of this book.

They will have you believe that Caleb's Crossing is about the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in 1665.

Don't get me wrong - this is central to the story and is the reason Geraldine Brooks wrote this book.

However, alongside it is the equally powerful story of the book's narrator, Bethia Mayfield, and her detailed account of life as a woman in the mid-17th Century.

I love historical fiction and also recommend two of Brooks' previous books:

* People of the Book: A book lover's delight - a book that tells the story of a centuries old book.

* Year of Wonders: The story of an English housemaid and her village during the 1666 plague.

In Caleb's Crossing, Brooks creates a work of fiction from scant historical fact. She goes to great lengths to recreate the life and times of the era, when Native Americans were commonly referred to as "salvages" and women were required to live in the shadow of men.

She creates a strong contrast between the fiery spirit of Native American traditions and the sobering repression of English Puritan ways.

While I enjoyed the story of Caleb, for me, Bethia's story was the real drawcard of this book.

As she narrates Caleb's story and his "crossing" to English ways, Bethia also introduces us to the issues facing women of her era.

It is saddening to see her sharp wit and intelligence silenced by the prejudices of her time.

It also made me wonder: if women had been able to speak up throughout the ages, how different would the world be that we live in today?

Click on my profile above to find more of my recommended reads and visit my website to register for free email updates.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enlightening, engrossing, emotive 17 July 2011
By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER
Caleb's Crossing is the fourth novel by Geraldine Brooks. As with her other novels, fiction is built on fact. In this case the fact is the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the young son of a Wampanoag chieftain, who, in 1665, was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. The story is narrated by Bethia Mayfield, the daughter of a Calvinist minister living on the island of Noepe (Martha's Vineyard), and begins when twelve-year-old Bethia meets Caleb whilst she is out gathering clams. Bethia's diary paints a vivid picture of life in an English Puritan settlement in the 17th century, and the effects on both cultures of interaction with the Native population. As events unfold, we watch Bethia, in her innocence and ignorance, using faulty logic, come to incorrect conclusions and thus suffers unwarranted guilt. As Bethia grows and matures, so does her narrative voice. The struggle between the English ministers and the Native medicine men for the acceptance of their beliefs amongst the native population is well portrayed. Caleb's stubborn uncle, medicine man Tequamuk, seems remarkably prescient on the subject of the future of Native Americans.
Each time I pick up a book, fiction or non-fiction, by Geraldine Brooks, I look at the description on the jacket and wonder if I am going to like this one. By now, I should have learned that, no matter the subject matter, this author does not disappoint her readers. The depth of her research stands out. Her characters are always well developed, the dialogue is authentic, and she manages to convey the mood and atmosphere perfectly. Brooks manages to squeeze a wealth of facts into an easily-digestible package. I laughed and cried. I especially loved Caleb's explanation and opinions on the native and English gods. I enjoyed this novel more than I expected to. It was engrossing and enlightening. The afterword was especially interesting. Once again, Brooks gives us a wonderful read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The first Native American to graduate from Harvard University
The first Native American to graduate from Harvard University.

This was the fourth book I'd read by Geraldine Brooks, whose novel, The Year of Wonders is one of my... Read more
Published 3 months ago by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
Geraldine Brooks is an amazing story teller and this is a story that keeps you tied in right to the, definitely recommend
Published 6 months ago by S. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Read at one sitting -loved it
Have really enjoyed this: wonderful descriptions of nature and reminders of the harsh lives of those who have gone before us. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S. L. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the read.
A beautifully crafted book with an intriguing structure - an excellent read. Our book club chose it, and devoured it - no-one dropped out on some flimsy excuse, a first!
Published 7 months ago by Nicola Moxey
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Thoroughly enjoyed the story. The language used to tell the story and the characters were particularly appealing. I highly recommend it
Published 8 months ago by Miss M Mallon
5.0 out of 5 stars Indians and Pilgrims
I listened to this book on audio so I could not skim any bits. It was hard though to reread any parts or nip back to check on earlier bits. Read more
Published 11 months ago by gerardpeter
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
I enjoyed it. Again it was chosen by the book club I belong to so I would not normally read this kind of book.
Published 13 months ago by Julia Prestridge
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into the relations between early New World...
Geraldine Brooks has a knack for picking out an interesting but lesser known corner of history, and weaving a delightful tapestry to illustrate it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Janet Gibbs
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner from Ms.Brooks.
I am a huge fan of Geraldine Brooks' novels and was not disappointed in Caleb's Crossing. This book was inspired by the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, a member of the Wampanoag... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Pigwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Caleb's Crossing (Kindle Edition)
I haven't finished this story yet, but can't put it down. A well written, engaging story about engaging characters. Read more
Published 15 months ago by F. Martin
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