by Geraldine Brooks, 2011, Audible Audio Edition, narrated by Jennifer Ehle
This audiobook is written well and is interesting as it depicts the life of early settlers on what is now called Martha’s Vineyard. It also depicts some of the early times of Harvard University. I felt, however, that the author was a bit harsh in her assessment of the virtues of some of the English settlers versus those of the natives.
The main character, Bethia, who tells the tale of her long life and her relationship with the Indians, maintains her strong Christian faith while, at the same time, experiencing its destructive impact on the native culture and religion. She also glosses over the brutality that the Indians inflicted on the white settlers during the King Phillips War. Her totally worthless brother at the early stages of the book becomes a very worthy individual by the end of the book. Indian boys become top scholars at Harvard and individuals, both white and native, pick up not only each other’s languages with ease, but also Latin and Greek.
I have no doubt that many individuals who lived in this era were extraordinary persons but I feel challenged to believe that the deeds and events that the author depicts could be close to reality. Perhaps she took some of the characters from historical records but because of their extraordinary feats, I tend to think that they are either imaginary or embellished to a great degree.
The narrator, Jennifer Ehle, uses a stilted style to emulate a New England woman settler in the early 1600′s. The style incorporates a succinct and slow enunciation of each syllable of each word. The style is in keeping with the story and probably adds to the overall listening experience, but it tends to wear a bit over the length of ten CD’s.
Overall, the book is certainly better than average and enjoyable, but it did, at times, stretch my belief.