One of the things I love most about travelling is that I have less inclination to fall into the old trap of watching television, and choose to read instead. Of course, there is very little access to the telly here; there is one in the teacher’s lounge, and it is great for watching the news on the BBC and catching up on the cricket/rugby/football (those of you who know me know how much I just love my sport…). There are plenty of DVDs around, of course, and people with televisions with no reception, but with DVD players attached but I am really enjoying taking the time to read.
I only brought two books with me… no, make that three. I forgot about my “handbag book” which is a thin novel that fits nicely into my handbag for those moments when I am stuck in a queue or waiting room. My current handbag book is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, but the rule is that I can ONLY read it when stuck in a queue or waiting room!
The other two books I brought with me are Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks and Bear Gryll’s autobiography. The autobiography is in the luggage I sent unaccompanied, which has yet to arrive, and so I have been reading Caleb’s Crossing. I finished it a couple of weeks ago and just loved it. It is the fictionalised account of the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Wopanaak native American to graduate from Harvard university. Caleb was from the island now known as Martha’s Vineyard. Most of Brook’s characters and the plot is imagined, as there was very little information to be found about Caleb’s life and experiences. I quite liked the protagonist and narrator, Bethia, who befriends Caleb, and generally sympathised with her frustration at her situation as a young woman denied a formal education. The archaic language of the novel was generally not too much of a distraction; context usually sorted out any obscure words!
For those of you who teach English Studies in SA I think it would be an excellent novel to consider, focussing on the role of first person narrator, analysing the techniques used to explore the impact of a particular form of religion (in this case the Puritans) on an indigenous people group, or when considering the role of women in other eras and societies. I don’t know what I would pair it with, although feel free to post a comment on this blog with suggestions! I’ll find them handy when I teach the course next year (if I can wedge it away from Jos!).