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Calico Captive

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. In the year 1754, the stillness of Charlestown, New Hampshire, is shattered by the terrifying cries of an Indian raid. Young Miriam Willard, on a day that had promised new happiness, finds herself...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

A captivating read!

I absolutely love all of Elizabeth George Speare's book and have read them all. This is my second favorite ( the first being The Witch of Blackbird Pond) of this author not only because it focuses on a teenage girl, out of place, and forced to deal with current circumstances but it puts you in her shoes--you feel as she does. Although, unlike The Witch of Black of Blackbird Pond which concluded nicely, this one leaves an anticlimactic taste in the mouth. Overall, I love this book. I wish to find a fanfiction sequel so she can truly be happy. . .

A modern re-writing of captivity narrative and young adult classic: Calico Captive

Calico Captive is Elizabeth George Sprears (1908-1994) first novel. It was inspired by the diary of Susanna Willard Johnson, abducted by the Abenaki Indians in 1754 (during the French and Indian War) from her house in Fort Number 4 in Charleston, New Hampshire, published for the first time in 1796 and then 1807 (and presently available online at www.canadiana.org). Susanna Johnson was made captive with all her family, including a 14 year old sister, turned into the sixteen year old Miriam in the book, conducted to the Indian settlement of St. Francis and then sold to the French in Montreal, where she remained for three years before being set free after the payment of ransom. It took some years still before the whole family could be reunited. Captivity narratives evolved into a kind of literary genre during the early years of American literature. These diaries, mostly by women, were always written at distance from the event of the abduction and share in their originality many stereotyped situations. These memories have been identified by modern critics as vehicles for a subjective rather than objective truth, as a means of political propaganda and as a form of sensational literature such as the "slave narratives". Post-modern and cultural analysis have re-evaluated them as examples of gender and culture conflicts and pointed out the principal elements of the genre: what a proper woman should do in a desperate situation and the religious message of sticking to Faith in times of adversity. Not rarely, however, the captives depict their captors as individuals and somehow opened themselves to these foreign (Indian or French) cultures. Susanna Johnson's diary is one of those in which the captors, be they Indian or French, are shown in all their humanity and this old document, even if difficult to read, retains a charm of its own. This long introduction is to explain the importance, the originality and the enduring success of "Calico captive". This novel, more often than not classified as children or adolescent literature makes a great read also for adults. Elizabeth George Spear describing Susanna's little sister Miriam introduces into this real adventure a fictionalized and modern young girl, that with her thoughts and actions allows the reader to identify with the history, the characters and the literary genre. Miriam is sixteen, just starting to get interested in a young Harvard bound Phineas Whitney, when she is ripped away from her home. During her march through the woods, she keeps blaming her family for their capture and she thinks with longing and rage of her new blue dress. These small things seem more important than the plight the family is withstanding. But how true, that a sixteen year old girl would think of it this way! Once in the Indian settlement she tries to get along with her masters and decides to learn sewing and embroidery and tries to make the best of her situation. But when she is brought to Montreal, the contact with the lo

Coming-of-age classic

I read this book 25 years ago, and my daughter just finished it. Teenage selfishness and bravado give way to maturity, loyalty, and strong sense of self. A wonderful book.

Great story with lots of hidtorical facts.

I loved this book. This book is about a young girl named Mirium who is captured by indians with her family and sold for ransome in a French Colony during the French and Indian War.The young girl is forced to live in a colony where she is looked down upon because she is English. Her worst challenge though is growing up and finding her true self. This is a great novel that will be enjoyed by many readers. I thought this was a great story and would reccomend this book to anyone. This is truely a good work of art. I recommend it greatly to those who love to read.

A great book.

Elizabeth George Speare's "Calico Captive" might not be as suspenseful as her "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," but it is still very good. As the excellent review from 12/1/99 pointed out, this story is very loosely based on the true captivity narrative of Susannah Johnson. The focus of the book is on Mrs. Johnson's younger sister, Miriam Willard, who was just 14 at the time she and her older sister's family were captured by Abenaki Indians in 1754, but Ms. Speare increased her age to 16.This book has adventure and romance, and makes for a great fast-paced read. It also deals with how cultures and religions clashed on the 18th century frontier: New England farmers vs. Abenaki warriors, Puritanism vs. Roman Catholicism, and English vs. French. A wonderful historical novel for young readers, and interesting history.

Excellent historical fiction; yet to find better.

Speare writes for younger readers, and her style is easy for them to understand, but once you begin reading any tale of hers it's beyond human capacity to stop. This is her most exciting, and perhaps truest, historical book. The heroine is young Miriam Willard, whose terrifying experiences cut off her hardly-begun entrance into womanhood. She proves herself capable and heroic as well as lovely; so does Speare. This story is always captivating and never compromises. Read if you can, and if you're a child, don't miss it--you'll keep it until you're eighty.
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