Interview with Carolyn Turgeon, author of Mermaid + 5 Copy Giveaway

Passages to the Past is very excited to bring you an interview with the charming Carolyn Turgeon, author of the equally charming new book, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale!  
Carolyn has also graciously offered up 5 copies of Mermaid to PTTP's readers, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the interview.

1. What inspired you to write a retelling of the little mermaid story?

Well, when I was in the final editing stages with my US publisher for my last book, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, an editor from the UK swooped in and bought the book, and asked what else I was working on. I sent her a list, and at the bottom was a one-line idea for a book about a mermaid. And she bought it! So I put aside what I actually was working on, and I tried a few ideas before going back to the original Hans Christian Andersen story, which is so strange and dark I wasn’t sure what I could do with it at first. Eventually, though, I decided to tell the story of the princess who barely appears in the story but winds up with the prince at the end, and to tell it alongside the story of the mermaid herself… so that the book becomes as much about the relationship between the two women as it is about their relationships with the prince. And because I was already contrasting the worlds of the human princess and the little mermaid, I decided to set the whole book in the past and not complicate it more by going between the past and present (as I did in Godmother). So now it’s this big medieval love triangle with castles and convents and kings and princesses and wars and mermaids.

2. What type of research did you conduct for the writing of Mermaid?

I did a lot of reading about medieval convents and castles and tried very hard to figure out what daily life would have been like, felt like, tasted like, smelled like, for those who lived in them. Which is hard, really, since most medieval history books don’t focus on those kinds of details at all, especially daily life as lived by women. But I did the best I could and made up the rest. I also did a little looking around at life at the bottom of the sea, and read a bit of mermaid lore, and read the Hans Christian Andersen little mermaid over and over, to pluck out as many details as possible to expand on. But for the most part when it comes to mermaids and the like, you just have to make it up and make it feel as real as possible.

3. I read on your website that your book Godmother has been optioned for a movie! Congratulations, that must be so thrilling for you! Can you tell us a bit about it and will you be playing a big role in the movie making process?

There is not a whole lot to tell! Godmother has also been optioned, twice actually, and is now with a big studio in France, and Mermaid was just optioned last month by Sony. Which apparently surprised my film agent because there are so many other mermaid projects in development right now. But with both books/movies, I am very separate from the process and don’t know a whole lot about what’s going on! Which is fine with me. I like controlling the little worlds of my books; being involved in movie-making seems much more overwhelming and frustrating.

4. Who are your writing influences?

Old Italian literature, like Dante and his circle and those wonderful Boccaccio stories full of tricksters and thieves, and also Verga and all that sensual crazy over-the-top Sicilian tragedy. (I studied Italian literature as an undergrad and medieval Italian poetry in graduate school.) I love the magic realists, too, Marquez especially, and other fanciful fiction, like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Italo Calvino’s CosmiComics. And I’ve always liked old crime fiction, especially the brutality of James M. Cain, the stylishness of Raymond Chandler, the elegant dreadfulness of Patricia Highsmith. And then a lot of music, I’d say, has probably shaped my sensibility as much as anything. Like Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave and Jonathan Richman, all singers I fell in love with as a teenager and love just as much 20 years (ok more than 20 years) later, all of whom write lyrics that are beautiful and sad and strange and sometimes very funny. I’ve been influenced by a lot of film as well. At one point I watched every film noir I could get my hands on, and lots of sad beautiful weepy foreign films, movies like The Hairdresser’s Husband, which is very romantic and devastating, or Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is creepy and sad and gorgeous, like an old fairytale come to life. My first book, Rain Village, was inspired directly by the film Wings of Desire, actually, the beautiful woman in white wings swinging back and forth on the trapeze.

5. What can your fans expect next from you?

My first children’s book—a middle-grade novel—comes out this summer, I think in August. It’s called The Next Full Moon and is about a 12-year-old girl who starts growing feathers and eventually discovers her mother was/is a swan maiden. It looks like I’ll be writing a non-fiction mermaid book as well, based in part on my blog and this article I wrote on how to become a mermaid yourself []. And I’m trying to finish this thriller I’ve had on the back burner forever, and I want to do a novel about Weeki Wachee Springs and a YA book about a drowning pool. So… lots of things!

6. How do you feel your writing has developed since your first novel, Rain Village?

I think I’ve become much more efficient and comfortable in crafting a whole novel. Writing has always been easy for me line by line, but I had a lot of learning to do about how to put a whole book together and tell stories with beginnings, middles and ends. Mermaid took me a year to write where Rain Village took ten years off and on, and Godmother took five. And that was lack of efficiency and outlining more than anything else! I figured out Mermaid before I wrote it, so that saved a ton of time. I couldn’t have done that before getting through two other novels the hard way, though! So I hope I’m getting better and better as I go!

7. If you could read a book again for the first time, which one would it be and why?

Probably One Hundred Years of Solitude, a book that burned itself into me when I was a teenager. It’s just so beautiful and vivid and wonderful and makes the whole world seem new. I would also love to be a kid again, opening one of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books for the first time, or a Little House on the Prairie novel, or a Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twins. Those were books that completely transported me as a kid and absolutely made me want to be a writer.

8. And the last question is one I like to end an interview with...what is your advice for aspiring writers?

I just wrote this to a young writer:

Work hard and get as good as possible. Listen very carefully and thoughtfully to criticism but trust your own gut and voice as well; this is an art, I think, so learn it as well as you can. Don't get defensive and don't be shy, be merciless when it comes to your craft and get as good as you can get! Remember and believe that you can learn anything, and that you can always get better. Seek out mentors and peers to share your work with, whom you trust and who can help you, and rely on them, use them, and give them as much as you take. Reading your peers' work and critiquing it, discussing what works and what doesn't and why, is such a good way to learn, and these relationships will be crucial to you throughout your artistic life. And just: be fearless, be confident, trust your gut, be authentic, get to know people and be kind to people and don't ever step on them or use them, "network" but remember that everyone is just a person you can love and learn from and remember, too, that it always always comes down to the work. So that's the main thing: find your voice, use it, develop it, perfect it, always be open and always continue learning and always work on getting better, digging deeper, finding the most beautiful truth you can and expressing it as clearly and authentically as possible. =)



Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after?

Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.

Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….  

A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page. 

For more information please visit Carolyn Turgeon's WEBSITE and BLOG.


- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address.
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on April 6th.



Paperback release of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees + Author Book Signing in Georgia

The paperback release of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees will be released on May 3, 2011!  Isn't this cover stunning?!  I just love that dress!!

A richly imagined, remarkably written story of the woman who created Little Women- and how love changed her in ways she never expected.

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

And to all my fellow Georgia readers, author Kelly O'Connor McNees will be coming to Woodstock, GA for a book signing!  The details are below:

Date: May 7th
Time: 1:00 pm
Bookstore: Foxtale Book Shoppe
Location: 105 E. Main Street #138
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am definitely going to try and make it since it's not too far from where I live and hope to meet fellow bibliophiles there!


giveaway winners

Hey everyone! I've got some giveaway winners to announce, so please help me in congratulating the following:

The winner of Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly by Michael Farquhar is...

Pamela Keener!!

The two winners of Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks are...

Jess - A Book Hoarder and Carol N. Wong!!!

Again, congratulations to all winners and thank you to Michael Farquhar and Rebecca at Penguin for providing the giveaway copies!


Guest Post by Sarah Bower, author of Sins of the House of Borgia

I am so thrilled to bring you a spectacular guest post written by Sarah Bower, author of the newly released novel Sins of the House of Borgia.  I asked her to write something on Lucrezia Borgia, as I have found her to be one of the most intriguing of historical women.

Take it away Sarah....

I’m delighted you asked me to talk about researching Lucrezia Borgia because I think the work I did on her while preparing to write SINS OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA was the most revelatory of all.

I’d been a fan of the Borgias since my early teens – I was only about fifteen the first time I read The Prince, which was famously inspired by Machiavelli’s observations of Cesare Borgia during his time as Florentine ambassador to Cesare’s court. I’ve read pretty much everything which has been written about them in English in the past thirty years so, understandably, I thought I knew them. I had always thought of Lucrezia as a somewhat sad figure, pushed around from pillar to post by the ambitions of her father and her brother. Her second husband, Alfonso of Bisceglie, whom she seems to have genuinely loved, was murdered by Cesare when an alliance with Naples (Alfonso was a scion of the Neapolitan royal family) no longer suited his plans and he wished to throw in his lot with the French. Her son by Alfonso was taken away from her so she could be presented to prospective new husbands as an unsullied ‘virgin’. Although certain aspects of her early life have remained shrouded in mystery and can, as far as modern scholarship is concerned, only be matters of speculation, it is possible young Rodrigo wasn’t the first child of whom she was brutally and abruptly deprived.

She also struck me as a shallow woman, well educated, as aristocratic women were during the Renaissance, but with a library which contained nothing but a few religious texts and some love poetry, and no particular association with any of the great artists of the day. She was certainly no Isabella Gonzaga or Elisabetta da Montefeltro. She danced well, we are told, and was clearly something of a flirt, and knew how to make the best of a tendency to plumpness and the receding chin she inherited from her father. I found her easy to dismiss in favour of the dark genius and unashamed sex appeal of her notorious brother, Cesare.

I always planned to write about the Borgias, and expected that novel to be about Cesare, but once I began my research in earnest, it became apparent to me that there was a lot more to Lucrezia than I had thought. It began with certain tantalising allusions in Sarah Bradford’s excellent Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy to coded letters written by Lucrezia from her brief exile at Nepi in September 1500.

Lucrezia went to Nepi, where she was governor, to mourn Alfonso of Bisceglie. She was despatched by her father, who said he couldn’t tolerate the noise of her incessant crying in the Vatican. She returned to Rome and resumed life as though Alfonso had never existed, flirting and partying as always, after a private visit to Nepi by Cesare. He stayed a night there. We do not know what transpired, but whatever it was, it brought an abrupt end to her grief, in public at least.

So, on the face of it, the young widow was still entirely under the influence of her father and brother, and yet, she was writing these letters, to her confidant and major domo, Vincenzo Giordano, letters which suggest she was up to something on her own account, about which the Pope and Cesare knew little, if anything. What if she was negotiating her third, and final, marriage, to Alfonso ‘dEste, for herself?

There is no hard evidence for this, and I only really began to think of it as a possibility when I visited Ferrara while researching SINS OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA, and discovered that Lucrezia Borgia d’Este, Duchess of Ferrara, cuts a very different figure in history from the girl who left Rome for the last time in the early weeks of 1502. This woman is a serious patron of the arts, most notably of Ariosto, who dedicated the Orlando Furioso to her, and of Pietro Bembo, with whom she shared a romantic attachment and an affectionate friendship which lasted the rest of her life and was expressed in a correspondence which Lord Byron called ‘the prettiest love letters in the world.’

She is a loyal wife and devoted mother of five children. (Lucrezia endured nine pregnancies but only five of her children survived into adulthood; she died in childbirth, aged 39, in 1519.) While her marriage to Alfonso was a political and dynastic one, it was also clearly happy, if not a romantic idyll. Both partners ‘played away’ but, when it came to their children, or the welfare of the duchy, they were a strong and formidable partnership. Their letters are heart warming to read, full of lively domestic details such as Lucrezia’s shopping lists for her husband’s trips to Venice (fine fabrics and preserved morello cherries, of which she was particularly fond) and expressions of concern about the children having chickenpox. She also pays attention to animal husbandry with a conscientiousness that is, perhaps, a nod to her family’s origins among the minor gentry of Catalonia. She enumerates her heifers by name (Rose and Lavender among them) and notes that she must have guineafowl eggs to hatch because the pullets will not survive being moved from one place to another.

When Lucrezia died, Alfonso described himself as being in ‘the greatest imaginable anguish of soul’ at the loss of ‘such a sweet, dear companion ...and for the tender love there was between us.’ This she had extended to her entire remaining family, protecting a motley assortment of bastard children left behind by her father and Cesare, trying against all the odds to mediate between the Este brothers during the Coniurga of 1506. In this she failed, but she remained a firm friend of Cardinal Ippolito d’Este I, one time lover of her cousin, Angela, with whom she jointly governed Ferrara on many occasions during Alfonso’s absences. She gained a reputation as a shrewd and fair administrator who showed compassion in matters of justice, and was mourned as sincerely by the Ferrarese people as by her husband at her death.

I remain stubbornly fascinated by Cesare Borgia for his genius, his beauty and probably for dying young, but, as I looked further into Lucrezia’s life in Ferrara, the life she forged for herself, without her father or brother to rely on, I came to regard her with increasing admiration and affection. I hope I have done her justice in SINS OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA.

Thank you Sarah for this fascinating look at Lucrezia Borgia!


Review: Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes and Bad Seeds by Leslie Carroll

by Leslie Carroll

Publication Date: March 1, 2011
NAL Trade


The author of Notorious Royal Marriages presents some of history's boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals.

The bad seeds on the family trees of the most powerful royal houses of Europe often became the most rotten of apples: über-violent autocrats Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible literally reigned in blood. Lettice Knollys strove to mimic the appearance of her cousin Elizabeth I and even stole her man. And Pauline Bonaparte scandalized her brother Napoleon by having a golden goblet fashioned in the shape of her breast.

Chock-full of shocking scenes, titillating tales, and wildly wicked nobles, Royal Pains is a rollicking compendium of the most infamous, capricious, and insatiable bluebloods of Europe. 


In her third non-fiction book on the aristocracy, Leslie Carroll examines the scandalous lives of some of history’s most notorious royal baddies.

The book kicks off with a legendary royal pain in the arse, King John of England, the youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. And Leslie’s modus operandi of educating her readers with a mix of wit and snarky commentary is immediately evident as she compares King John’s fear of assassination to that of Dick Cheney's, soliciting a laugh out loud moment for this reader!

Some of the bad sees covered in Royal Pains are infamous for their sexual indiscretions, while others are of the much darker and violent variety. Examples of the former include Lettice Knollys, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, who dared to steal the Virgin Queen’s favorite Robert Dudley and Pauline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon, whose equal opportunity loving drove her conquering brother to distraction.

The chapters on the latter category are ones you will want to avoid before bedtime (trust me on this): Vlad the Impaler, whose penchant for devising clever means of torture and delighting in the use will make your skin crawl; Ivan the Terrible, said to be born with two teeth and whose reign of terror began at the tender age of 12; Elizabeth Bathory, the blood countess who killed hundreds of noble girls and women to imbibe their blood as a way to preserve her youth.

Other chapters include the two sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Richard, Duke of Glouchester (King Richard III) and George, Duke of Clarence; Prince Henry Frederick, brother to King George III; Archduke Rudolf, last crown prince of the Hapsburg dynasty; Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria; Princess Margaret, sister to the currect Queen Elizabeth II.

What I really enjoyed the most was that Carroll doesn't only cover their bad deeds but speaks to their accomplishments as well, so it's not just one sided. Informative and humorous, Leslie Carroll excels at entertaining readers with tales of these royal terrors! You will not want to miss it!

For more information please visit Leslie Carroll's WEBSITE.

FTC:  I received this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.


2011 Paperback Release: The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories by Michel Faber

Are you a fan of The Crimson Petal and The White by Michael Faber? Need more Sugar? Well, here's your chance!  Canongate UK is re-issuing Faber's The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories for us die hard fans and I for one will be all over it!  What about you?

by Michel Faber

Release Date: September 1, 2011


Enjoy more Sugar. Join Clara at the rat pit. Relax with Mr Bodley as he is lulled to sleep by Mrs Tremain and her girls. Find out what became of Sophie. Michel Faber revisits the world of his bestselling novel The Crimson Petal and the White, conjuring tantalising glimpses of its characters, their lives before we first met them and their intriguing futures. You'll be desperate for more by the time you reluctantly re-emerge into the twenty-first century.


2011 Release: The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell

Having loved Gillian Bagwell's debut novel The Darling Strumpet, I am really looking forward to her next release The September Queen about Jane Lane, the woman who helped Charles II on his quest to reclaim the English crown.

by Gillian Bagwell

Release Date: November 1, 2011


Charles II is running for his life—and into the arms of a woman who will risk all for king and country.

Jane Lane is of marrying age, but she longs for adventure. She has pushed every potential suitor away—even those who could provide everything for her. Then one day, adventure makes its way to her doorstep, and with it comes mortal danger…

Royalists fighting to restore the crown to King Charles II implore Jane to help. Jane must transport him to safety, disguised as a manservant. As she places herself in harm’s way, she finds herself falling in love with the gallant young Charles. And despite his reputation as a breaker of hearts, Jane finds herself surrendering to a passion that will change her life forever.

Will you be reading?


Currently Reading: Elizabeth I by Margaret George

I will be starting today the mother of all reads, Elizabeth I by the incomporable Margaret George!!!!  I have been waiting for this moment ever since receiving my copy a few months ago and I'm almost afraid to start it!  The sooner I start it, the sooner it's over and I don't want it to end!!!  heehee

Margaret George has also graciously agreed to an interview here at Passages to the Past - I am beyond excited and not afraid to admit, a tad nervous!  I mean c'mon, it's Margaret George, my idol!!!!

Oh, and how unbelievable gorgeous is this cover?  The best I have ever seen and this picture doesn't do it justice compared with the physical book!

by Margaret George

Release Date:  April 5, 2011


New York Times bestselling author Margaret George captures history's most enthralling queen-as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.

One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.


2 copy giveaway: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Thanks to the gracious people at Penguin Publishing, Passages to the Past has 2 copies of the newest release by Geraldine Brooks (author of Year of Wonders and People of the Book), Caleb's Crossing, due to be released on May 3, 2011!

Penguin has also provided an in-depth interview with author Geraldine Brooks which provides some great insight into her 4th book and I have pasted it below.  Caleb's Crossing sounds like a great read, be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

Geraldine Brooks
Caleb Cheeshahteamauk is an extraordinary figure in Native American history. How did you first discover him? What was involved in learning more about his life?

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah are proud custodians of their history, and it was in materials prepared by the Tribe that I first learned of its illustrious young scholar.   To find out more about him I talked with tribal members, read translations of early documents in the Wopanaak language, then delved into the archives of Harvard and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, especially the correspondence between colonial leaders and benefactors in England who donated substantial funds for the education and conversion to Christianity of Indians in the 17th century.   There are also writings by members of the Mayhew family, who were prominent missionaries and magistrates on the island, and John Cotton, Jr., who came here as a missionary and kept a detailed journal.

There is little documentation on Caleb’s actual life. What parts of his life did you imagine? Do you feel you know him better after writing this book, or is he still a mystery?

The facts about Caleb are sadly scant.  We know he was the son of a minor sachem from the part of the Vineyard now known as West Chop, and that he left the island to attend prep school, successfully completed the rigorous course of study at Harvard and was living with Thomas Danforth, a noted jurist and colonial leader, when disease claimed his life.  Everything else about him in my novel is imagined.  The real young man—what he thought and felt—remains an enigma.

Bethia Mayfield is truly a woman ahead of her time. If she were alive today, what would she be doing? What would her life be like with no restrictions?

There were more than a few 17th century women like Bethia, who thirsted for education and for a voice in a society that demanded their silence.  You can find some of them being dragged to the meeting house to confess their “sins” or defending their unconventional views in court.   If Bethia was alive today she would probably be president of Harvard or Brown, Princeton or UPenn.

The novel is told through Bethia’s point of view. What is the advantage to telling this story through her eyes? How would the book be different if Caleb were the narrator?

I wanted the novel to be about crossings between cultures.  So as Caleb is drawn into the English world, I wanted to create an English character who would be equally drawn to and compelled by his world.   I prefer to write with a female narrator when I can, and I wanted to explore issues of marginalization in gender as well as race.

Much of the book is set on Martha’s Vineyard, which is also your home. Did you already know about the island’s early history, or did you do additional research?

I was always intrigued by what brought English settlers to the island so early in the colonial period...they settled here in the 1640s.   Living on an island is inconvenient enough even today; what prompted the Mayhews and their followers to put seven miles of treacherous ocean currents between them and the other English—to choose to live in a tiny settlement surrounded by some three thousand Wampanoags?  The answer was unexpected and led me into a deeper exploration of island history

You bring Harvard College to life in vivid, often unpleasant detail. What surprised you most about this prestigious university’s beginnings?

For one thing, I hadn't been aware Harvard was founded so early.  The English had barely landed before they started building a college. And the Indian College—a substantial building—went up not long after, signifying an attitude of mind that alas did not prevail for very long.  It was fun to learn how very different early Harvard was from the well endowed institution of today.  Life was hand to mouth, all conversation was in Latin, the boys (only boys) were often quite young when they matriculated.   But the course of study was surprisingly broad and rigorous—a true exploration of liberal arts, languages, and literature that went far beyond my stereotype of what Puritans might have considered fit subjects for scholarship.

As with your previous books, you’ve managed to capture the voice of the period. You get the idiom, dialect, and cadence of the language of the day on paper. How did you do your research?

I find the best way to get a feel for language and period is to read first person accounts—journals, letters, court transcripts.  Eventually you start to hear voices in your head: patterns of speech, a different manner of thinking.  My son once said, Mom talks to ghosts.  And in a way I do.

May 2011, Tiffany Smalley will follow in Caleb’s footsteps and become only the second Vineyard Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard. Do you know if this will be celebrated?

In May Tiffany Smalley will become the first Vineyard Wampanoag since Caleb to receive an undergrad degree from Harvard College.  (Others have received advanced degrees from the university’s Kennedy school etc.)  I’m not sure what Harvard has decided to do at this year's commencement, but I am hoping they will use the occasion to honor Caleb’s fellow Wampanoag classmate, Joel Iacoomis, who completed the work for his degree but was murdered before he could attended the 1665 commencement ceremony.



A richly imagined new novel from the author of the New York Times bestseller, People of the Book.

Once again, Geraldine Brooks takes a remarkable shard of history and brings it to vivid life. In 1665, a young man from Martha's Vineyard became the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Upon this slender factual scaffold, Brooks has created a luminous tale of love and faith, magic and adventure.

The narrator of Caleb's Crossing is Bethia Mayfield, growing up in the tiny settlement of Great Harbor amid a small band of pioneers and Puritans. Restless and curious, she yearns after an education that is closed to her by her sex. As often as she can, she slips away to explore the island's glistening beaches and observe its native Wampanoag inhabitants. At twelve, she encounters Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a tentative secret friendship that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's minister father tries to convert the Wampanoag, awakening the wrath of the tribe's shaman, against whose magic he must test his own beliefs. One of his projects becomes the education of Caleb, and a year later, Caleb is in Cambridge, studying Latin and Greek among the colonial elite. There, Bethia finds herself reluctantly indentured as a housekeeper and can closely observe Caleb's crossing of cultures.

Like Brooks's beloved narrator Anna in Year of Wonders, Bethia proves an emotionally irresistible guide to the wilds of Martha's Vineyard and the intimate spaces of the human heart. Evocative and utterly absorbing, Caleb's Crossing further establishes Brooks's place as one of our most acclaimed novelists. 

For more information, please visit Geraldine Brook's WEBSITE.


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- Giveaway is open to US and Canada ONLY!
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on March 22nd.


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