Happy Audiobook Month! Since we're celebrating audiobooks all month, seems appropriate to finish the Listen to an Audiobook category for 10 to Try in June. I picked Caleb's Crossing for a couple of reasons. First, I love historical fiction on audio, especially historical fiction that's written, as Caleb's Crossing is, in a style that matches the setting - in this case, 17th century New England. Like watching Shakespeare, something about hearing the old-fashioned language helps it come alive for me. That proved to be especially true with Caleb's Crossing. Set on Martha's Vineyard in the early days of the English colony there, it follows the life of historical figure Caleb Cheeshahteaumauck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. The true protagonist, though, is a minister's daughter named Bethia Mayfield who becomes Caleb's unlikely friend. The text is peppered not only with anachronisms, but also words in Latin, Greek, and Wôpanâak, the language of Caleb's tribe, the Wompanoag people.
Second, actress Jennifer Ehle (aka Lizzie Bennett in the best Pride & Prejudice adaption) reads the book. I almost always choose my audiobooks based at least partly on the narrator. Some of my favorites including Fiona Hardingham, Kirsten Potter, Kirby Heyborne, and Julia Whelan. I love to discover new narrators, too, and although I'm a fan, I'd never listened to anything read by Ehle before.
And third, author Geraldine Brooks is coming to KCLS this month to talk about Caleb's Crossing, and I wanted to finish the book before her visit! The topic of her presentation is "Hearing the Unheard: Finding the Voice in Caleb's Crossing," and after listening to the book, I'm looking forward to the presentation. Both Caleb, as Native American, and Bethia, as a women, would've been relatively voiceless during their own time, yet Brooks makes them come vividly alive in Caleb's Crossing. It should be fascinating to hear about her research and writing process!
Are you a regular audiobook listener, or is Listen to an audiobook a tough theme for you?