Feb 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Waiting on Wednesday (WoW) is a weekly meme hosted by
My first and second WoW posts were about my guilty pleasure reading - romantic (often paranormal) paperback/mass market novels. My third and fourth WoW posts were YA (young adult) titles. Now my fifth and sixth WoW posts are about adult literary fiction:

9780670021048, Viking (Penguin), $26.95, Pub. Date: May 2011 

Though Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for March, her imagined history Mr. March, the father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, my favorite book of hers is actually Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. Year of Wonders is historical fiction at its best, and you can read my review of it here. I also greatly enjoyed People of the Book, though I realized after reading it that my favorite portions of the book were the historical scenes.

Because of my love for her historical fiction, I'm particularly excited for the publication of Caleb's Crossing, due in May 2011. There are many elements similar to Year of Wonders: the year, for one (YoW takes place in 1666, CC centers around an event in 1665); the narrator for another (in both cases a woman, narrating both her own life and the piece of life very closely tied to another main character [a man, thus getting both the male & female slices-of-life from that time period]). I have high hopes Caleb's Crossing will prove to be as thought-provoking, well-researched, and richly-imagined as Year of Wonders

Here is the publisher's description:

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 twelve, 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's 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.

Read more about the book on Geraldine Brooks's website.


  1. I'm really looking forward to this one too and plan to use it as a Wow in the next few weeks!

  2. Good choice! This one does sound interesting - I'll be waiting for it now, too. I read People of the Book a while back and enjoyed it a lot, although I do agree about the historical portions being more memorable than the modern story.


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