Thursday, November 3, 2016

Reading Through History: Calico Bush by Rachel Field (1931)

Calico Bush is the story of Marguerite, a French immigrant to the United States who is orphaned soon after her arrival. With no family to look after her, she becomes a bound out girl, contracted to the Sargent family for six years. As the Sargents work to settle their homestead in the Maine wilderness, under threat of violence from local American Indians, Marguerite, called Maggie, does her best to blend into the family and be of use to them, while also trying to remain true to her heritage.

I had a very frustrating time reading this book. My husband loved it and insisted that I read it, but I kept pausing every 30 pages or so and asking when something was going to happen. Lots of things almost happen, but then the author backs away from them, which made me feel like I was being strung along but never rewarded. When something finally does happen, it's a terrible tragedy involving a young baby that is so unspeakably sad, it feels like a punishment. I had a really hard time connecting with Marguerite, and I also found it difficult to keep track of who was who among the other characters. Only Aunt Hepsa, the wise, elderly neighbor who takes a special liking to Maggie stands out, and that is really only because of her quirkiness.

This book reminded a lot of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which I also didn't enjoy that much, so this may just be a matter of personal preference regarding stories set in colonial New England. I can't say there was anything wrong with the writing, or the storytelling, or even the characterizations. This book just did not click with me, no matter how hard I tried.

1 comment:

  1. Funny--how some love a particular book and others just don't. I read this one aloud to my girls quite a few years ago now as a part of our history studies, and I remember us all enjoying it, tragedy notwithstanding.