Who can pretend to know the minds and hearts of people who lived centuries ago in circumstances that would provoke horror and dismay in the calmest of us. This narrative attempts quite successfully to humanise a small page of American history using both real and imagined characters. Despite the clever reality of her story I believe the author, Geraldine Brooks has treated her characters to more helpings of emphathy and kindness than would probably have been allowed to exist in an era of disease, prejudice and physical discomfort.
This aside, the story is thoroughly researched, poetically written with an old-fashioned lilt to the words, their spelling, and turn of phrase. The delightful isolated island where both Caleb, the native Indian, and Bethia, the daughter of the local puritan pastor spent their childhoods much in each other’s company, is left behind for the grim cold existence on the mainland.
The book is interesting, easy to read, sometimes tinged with sadness and streaked through and through with the injustice and bigotry of the 1600’s. Geraldine Brooks has a fluent, matter-of-fact style of prose very similar to that of an informative news article. She pays great attention to detail without becoming monotonous.
I enjoyed the book immensely!