Brooke's Reviews > Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
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's review
Dec 10, 2015

liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, american, british, first-reads, fiction
Read from May 05 to 17, 2011

*Goodreads First Read*
3.5/5 stars

First off, let me say that I tend to have a love/hate relationship with Brooks' works; while I absolutely loved "Year of Wonders" and "People of the Book", I couldn't bring myself to finish "March". Thankfully "Caleb's Crossing" fell toward the former of the spectrum. I didn't enjoy it as much as "Year of Wonders" or "People of the Book", partly because I don't find the subject as interesting.
The book was also slow moving at the start, whether because of the "period language" (which seemed to wane near the end -- or maybe I was simply acclimated to it by that point?) or the characters, especially Bethia, I'm not sure. While I'm glad Brooks didn't try to tell the story from Caleb himself, Bethia seemed to fall into the mould of every other historical fiction female narrator I've read about recently: modern, rebellious, and sexual. Perhaps these traits appeal to a modern audience looking for a modern heroine (and I know there were real "modern" women throughout history), but they are detrimental to the "authenticity" of the story. Are we really supposed to believe that a woman who places so much faith in, well, her faith just all of a sudden disregards it and loses all her earlier fears of sin? And then writes about it in her last confession of sorts? I also think the story would have been improved without Bethia's quest for knowledge being so overbearing; at times it competed with Caleb's, and I found myself wondering whether the book was more about the education liberation of "savages" or women, and whether the book should be more aptly titled "Bethia's Crossing".
"Caleb's Crossing" was well-researched and a good read, but a few tweaks would have taken it from okay to the amazing level of "Year of Wonders" and "People of the Book".

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