Friday, June 19, 2015

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

In historical fiction, it's important to capture both the events and the sense of the corresponding era. This is a task that this novel more than accomplishes. The Tate family jumps out from the page, as real as your own neighbor. Their adventures and foibles are entertaining and humorous, much like the tales in Christopher Paul Curtis's The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963. At the same time there is an underlying current of worry and dissatisfaction throughout the novel. Calpurnia simply does not fit into societal expectations. A chance encounter with  her grandfather opens up the world for her in a way that virtually guarantees that she won't be satisfied with the life of domesticity that her mother has planned for her. It is both surprising and satisfying that her discontent remains at the conclusion of the novel, a likely result given that there were precious few opportunities for girls at the turn of the century. This book is an absolute delight.

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