Caleb's Crossing

  • by Geraldine Brooks
  • Narrated by Jennifer Ehle
  • 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Bethia's Crossing perhaps?

Ms Brooks clearly did considerable research for this historical novel and that is essentially the only positive point I can make about this book apart from it sheds light on the oppression of native people and on the suppression of women during this period in American history. The book starts and in the early stages indicates a potential for a great story, but it never happens. What we get is the autobiography of Bethia, who is the main character and not Caleb, a personal story that even she admits skips around; and she never delves into her characters. We get a glimpse of what kind of person Caleb is; Bethia's husband is a shadow; her brother and father we get to know somewhat better. The novel sounds like a good history lesson filled with sad stories. Not that I love Hollywood endings, but apart from the vivid depiction of life on the island and in Cambridge, there is little to praise here. The narrator is at her best when speaking as Bethia and at her worst trying to speak as male characters. Her worst is the Yorkshire man in Cambridge.
Don't waste your money on this one.
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- Dave

Sadly, I can't go on listening.

I had to stop about two and a half hours in. It was shaping up to be an interesting book, but the reader is so unpleasant that it became unbearable.

I understand that this reader is trying to convey the plain non-nonsense hard bitten atmosphere of these characters, but she goes to such lengths as to make her voice grating and nagging throughout the narrative. I kept trying to turn it down to escape the effect. She seems to try to pronounce each syllable separately, making the characters appear to be almost simple-minded, even though we know that they are not.

This reader is trying way too hard. She should let the written words carry the story.
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- Susan C. S.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-06-2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio