I so enjoyed Brooks’s novel People of the Book, that I grabbed this new one. However, when I realised it was set on Martha’s Vineyard, my first thought was that much of it would be lost on me because, unlike Dowling’s novel, I did not know the territory at all. I was soon hooked in to this wonderful story, based partly on fact, about a pastor’s daughter Bethia and her Native American friend who becomes Caleb.
It is set in the late 17th century when few girls were educated. Bethia’s father teaches her to read but from then on she cares for the household and her baby sister, picking up Greek, Latin and Hebrew by listening to her brother’s lessons while she works. She also learns from her father to speak the language of the local people.
Caleb comes to the minister for lessons and goes on to become the first Native American graduate from Harvard (this is fact – though today’s graduates would not recognise the small dark buildings and Library which was only open to lecturers!)
Geraldine Brooks also wrote The Year of Wonders and March, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize