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calico-captive

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 instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War. It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stoppingIn 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 instead a captive on a forest trail, caught up in the ebb and flow of the French and Indian War. It is a harrowing march north. Miriam can only force herself to the next stopping place, the next small portion of food, the next icy stream to be crossed. At the end of the trail waits a life of hard work and, perhaps, even a life of slavery. Mingled with her thoughts of Phineas Whitney, her sweetheart on his way to Harvard, is the crying of her sister’s baby, Captive, born on the trail. Miriam and her companions finally reach Montreal, a city of shifting loyalties filled with the intrigue of war, and here, by a sudden twist of fortune, Miriam meets the prominent Du Quesne family, who introduce her to a life she has never imagined. Based on an actual narrative diary published in 1807, Calico Captive skillfully reenacts an absorbing facet of history....

Title : Calico Captive
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780618150762
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Calico Captive Reviews

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    2018-12-09 00:38

    Elizabeth George Speare is best known as the author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, winner of the 1959 Newbury medal and a long-time favorite comfort read of mine, but I've never read any of her other books. But a few weeks ago one of my friends, Carol Storm, strongly recommended Calico Captive in her GR review, so I decided to grab it at the library and give it a read. Calico Captive is a fictionalized version of a few years in the life of Miriam Willard, a teenage girl who is kidnapped from her home in Charleston, New Hampshire by the Abenaki Indians in 1754, along with her very pregnant sister Susanna Johnson, Susanna's husband James, and their three young children, two-year-old Polly, four-year-old Susanna, and six-year-old Sylvanus. The Abenakis take them on a harrowing march northward. Susanna gives birth on the march and, in what I can only assume is a fit of despair, names her baby daughter "Captive." They end up staying several months in the Indians' village and are semi-adopted into the tribe. Little Sylvanus, especially, takes to the Abenaki lifestyle like a duck to water, enthusiastically learning to hunt and speak their language.However, when Miriam rejects the romantic overtures of a chief's son, the Indians sell most of the group--except Sylvanus, Susanna and baby Captive--to the French in Quebec as servants/slaves. Miriam's nieces are "adopted" by different French families, and Miriam tries to make a new life for herself as a servant(view spoiler)[, then as a guest of a wealthy family, then as a seamstress (hide spoiler)]. She befriends a couple of the wealthier young people in Quebec, and struggles with the tensions between her old beliefs and lifestyle and the opulent life lived by many of the French Canadian people she meets.This was an interesting middle grade historical tale, made more interesting by the fact that it follows actual history quite closely for most of the tale. This novel harks back to the once-popular "captivity narrative" literature, memoirs by people who were kidnapped by native Americans back in frontier days. The real-life Susanna Johnson, Miriam's sister, wrote a book about her adventures entitled A Narrative of The Captivity of Mrs. Johnson; Containing An Account of Her Sufferings, During Four Years, With the Indians and French, available to read online here. The novel follows Miriam's story rather than Susanna's but, other than the Quebec portion of the story, is based largely on Susanna's narrative. Baby Captive was actually named "Elizabeth Captive," but Susanna often calls her Captive in her story. Interestingly, the real life Miriam was only 14 years old when she was kidnapped. The novel doesn't specify her age, but she reads a little bit older to me, maybe 15 or 16, given her romantic interests.As you might expect from a story written in the 1950s, there are a lot of cringe-worthy descriptions of the native Americans, although I'm sure it's realistic of the way people thought in the 1700s. The words "savages" and "redskins" are used a few times. The prejudices of the white people against those of other races, countries and religions are a major part of the story. To some extent Miriam's prejudices are overcome in the story as she gets to know the people who are different from her, but don't expect a complete 180 turn.The ending of the story was a bit abrupt for me(view spoiler)[; I really wanted to read more about what happened when Miriam again met the young man who had been waiting for her (hide spoiler)]. But in fairness, that ending is also true to Susanna's narrative. 3.5 stars. It's somewhat dated and may offend some readers, but it's a fascinating tale with strong roots in a part of actual history that we don't hear about too often nowadays.

  • Lars Guthrie
    2018-12-06 04:12

    There's a good reason why 'Sign of the Beaver' and 'The Witch of Blackbird Pond' are so frequently assigned (over-assigned) in elementary school. Historical fiction is a staple of language arts classes. Elizabeth George Speare is at the top of the field. Besides teachers finding merit in the two books, kids go for them.Which makes it all the more shameful that Speare's two other novels (in print, anyway) are virtually ignored. I read 'The Bronze Bow' a few years ago, and thought it was unbelievably great. I mean, it did win the Newbery (and more recently than 'Witch'). Yet I haven't met anyone who's read it except me. Because it's got Jesus (mostly peripherally) in it? Now I can report that 'Calico Captive' is just as noteworthy, notwithstanding the lack of a Newbery. A meticulous researcher who captures period colors, sounds, even smells, George never fails to present vibrant characters dealing with issues not unlike those young people confront today, as well as deliver exciting stories filled with action.For 'Captive,' George takes off from a first-person real-life account of four years spent as a hostage and a slave in the time of the French and American War. In the 'Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson,' Susanna Johnson tells of her family's kidnapping by Abenaki Indians in New Hampshire, their forced march north, their sale to residents of Montreal, and their eventual return to New England in a prisoner exchange. George makes Susanna's younger sister, Miriam Willard, the protagonist of her tale. More headstrong and impetuous than her practical sister, Miriam prejudges Indians and French, then finds herself questioning those prejudices. Because of her talents as a dress designer, she mingles with Montreal's elite, and struggles to match her Puritan upbringing with a society invested in 'popery' and conquering English colonists. And she searches for true love. Highly recommended.

  • Wendy
    2018-12-04 23:38

    Problematic portrayal of American Indians, though it seems quite in keeping with the real feelings of the captives--based on the historical narrative--for what that's worth. I read this over and over as a child, especially savoring the descriptions of life in Montreal--the dishes, the furniture, the food, the hot chocolate, and especially the clothes. I really didn't understand, at age 10, why (SPOILER) Miriam wouldn't want to marry Pierre and stay at home in a fine Montreal mansion while he explored western rivers. It sounded good to ME.

  • Deborah Markus
    2018-12-04 04:29

    Welcome to another episode of Deborah's Library Book Is Overdue! Today's special guest is a YA novel by Elizabeth George Speare, author of the modern classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Although Deborah read this book in a couple of hours and her library now allows her to renew books twice provided no one has placed a hold on the title, she still managed to put off reviewing it long enough to rack up some minor but humiliating fees. Deborah also deserves some public mocking for the fact that, when she noticed the book was due on December 26, she immediately concocted and believed a charming fantasy of lolling around with a cup of eggnog while she typed up a review on the day after Christmas, because of course she'd have nothing better to do that day. Please laugh hard enough at her that she can hear you without even opening her window! Thanks, folks! And now: the book!Calico Captive is a YA novel based on the story told in the 1754 memoir Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson. I was lucky enough to find a copy of that narrative, and so was able to see how much truth had slipped into the novel. Quite a bit, as it happens. This review will focus on pointing out the nonfiction that can be found in the fiction. I hope this will be fun for people who've already read the book and, like me, always wondered how much of it was factually accurate. For readers unfamiliar with the novel: it's a well written historical YA novel that contains a minimum of mushy romance, though there's just enough love-interest to keep things interesting. If you liked Witch of Blackbird Pond, you'll enjoy this, though the main character's loathing of Native Americans is cringe-inducing at times. (It's historically accurate but pretty sad that this character doesn't change her mind any even when a white guy tries to explain some basic "they were here first" morality.)Speare wisely chooses to make Mrs. Johnson's younger sister Miriam Willard her protagonist. Miriam isn't described in too much detail in the memoir, so Speare has some room to play. Also, Susanna Johnson is an intelligent, deeply pious, extremely narrow-minded New England matron whose abhorrence and distrust of Native Americans is second only to her loathing of the French. (It's a close race, by the way. She makes it clear in her memoir that she doesn't consider either group to be fully human.) Young readers wouldn't find much to relate to in this upright Puritan lady.But Miriam, while sharing most of her sister's sentiments, is young – only fourteen years old when the story begins – and therefore more sympathetic and interesting to teenage readers. She's in the middle of her very first crush when Abenakis raid her home in Charlestown, New Hampshire. She and Susanna are taken prisoner, along with Susanna's husband and children. They are brought to an Abenaki village the whites called St. Francis, and eventually sent to Canada to wait to be ransomed or exchanged for French prisoners.All of this really happened. And in both novel and memoir, Susanna is heavily pregnant when their captivity begins. However, there was no debate among their captors as to whether the prisoners would be murdered or taken back with the Abenakis as valuable hostages. Speare invented this for dramatic tension, although it's a fairly accurate representation of the idea whites held that Indians were unpredictably violent "savages."Susanna does indeed lose her shoe as the family is hurried along, and the captives worry that her inability to travel very quickly will endanger all their lives. Speare sticks close to her source material all through Miriam's journey with her family to St. Francis. One detail I found interesting was that in the novel, Susanna gives birth to a baby during this forced march and names her Captive. In real life, the baby was named Elizabeth Captive. Both the memoir and the novel mention that the baby nearly drowns while the captives ford a stream. In the novel, Miriam is a crucial participant in a dramatic rescue; in the memoir, it's a male neighbor who'd been taken captive in the same raid who saves the baby's life.Rather to my surprise, the young Native American man who teases Miriam on their journey is also straight from the memoir. He feels like a character invented solely for a potential love-triangle, and in fact Speare offers a bit of romantic drama from him that's crucial to the plot but entirely fictional. But there really was such a teenaged Abenaki, described by Susanna as "a youth of sixteen, who in our journey discovered [revealed] a very mischievous and troublesome disposition." She adds that "he often delighted himself by tormenting my sister [Miriam], by pulling her hair, treading on her gown, and numerous other boyish pranks." Times change; people don't.Certainly teenagers don't. In the novel, Miriam doesn't see her sister Susanna's patience and strength; she only feels a bitter frustration that Susanna keeps slowing them down, first when she's heavily pregnant and then as she struggles to recover from giving birth. Apparently, this is an accurate representation of Miriam's feelings, as this line from Susanna's memoir makes clear: "My sister observed, that, if I could have been left behind, our trouble would have been seemingly nothing." Once the captives reach St. Francis and then white Canada, Speare drifts from her source material in order to introduce the obligatory love triangle and a rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-freedom story based entirely on a single sentence from the captivity narrative: "[Miriam] had supported herself by her needle in the family of the lieutenant governor, where she was treated extremely well."Susanna Johnson's captivity narrative is available online fer free; so if you read Calico Captive, you can then read the real story for yourself right here:http://books.google.com/books/about/A...

  • Laura
    2018-11-28 05:17

    Such a romantic book! I first read it in Junior High, and I liked it as well the second time I read it twenty years later! For those of you who love historical, romantic fiction that's wholesome - it doesn't get much better.

  • Carol Storm
    2018-11-30 21:14

    This Fifties classic is one of the greatest YA novels ever written -- in some ways it's even better than THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND!Elizabeth George Speare had a very special gift. She was able to create teen heroines who were strong, self-reliant, and independent -- but always with a soft spot for a cute boy. She was able to use all of the danger and intrigue of the past -- witch trials in Puritan New England, terrifying Indian raids on the frontier -- as a backdrop for the heroine's romantic adventures, in a way that made every page seem to turn by itself! More than that, there was always a sort of hard to define sweetness to her stories, an innocence . . . as if you always knew somehow that the heroine would triumph in the end, that there was goodness in even the darkest places. That plus the fact that she could make a girl gulping down a mug of hot chocolate under the knowing eyes of a handsome young French adventurer seem steamier than the hottest sex!

  • booklady
    2018-11-28 03:18

    Calico Captive is the fictionalized version of A Narrative Of The Captivity Of Mrs. Johnson told from the perspective of Susannah Johnson’s younger (by ten years) sister, Miriam. As would be expected with any captivity story, it’s fascinating, fast-paced and hard to put down. The author does an excellent job of portraying a young woman confronting the competing dangers of trying to stay alive, keep family together and maintain cherishes values amidst the perplexities of multi-cultures, (English, French, Indian, and colonial) divergent religious beliefs against the backdrop of constantly changing fortunes. Highly recommended for young—and slightly older—readers!

  • Lizzie
    2018-12-07 00:27

    Actual rating: 3.5/5 starsI was thrilled to be reading this book, having recently read and adored Elizabeth’s other novel, ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond’. I didn’t like the story in this novel as much as I did in the other one, although I still enjoyed it and rated it 3.5/5 stars. The writing was wonderful, it was well paced, I just didn’t find the story all that interesting. This novel featured many wonderful characters and messages, such as faith, hope, and sacrifice. I loved our main character, Miriam Willard. She wasn’t fragile as glass, but she wasn’t unbreakable either, and she didn’t pretend to be. She always believed that things would turn out alright, and I loved seeing her character develop throughout the course of this novel. Here’s a quote from the novel that I thought represented her character development well: “Miriam felt astonished at herself. It was a new thing for her to step out so independently. Somehow, in the past month a tough little root of determination had been growing in her. Whether it was strong enough to support the desperate plan she had undertaken she would soon find out.” Despite the many trials that came along, Miriam and her family kept their chins up, and held firm to faith. Being captured and sold by Indians, they had faith. Being brought to a strange new country, to work as slaves, they had faith. Throughout the war, they had faith. Even being stuck in jail for weeks, they had faith. They knew God would bring them through this- they knew He hadn’t forgotten them and that He was still taking care of them. And they were right to, because He brought them through it, even stronger than before. What an inspiration, right??

  • Krystal
    2018-11-22 04:34

    Loved this book. Its written for the younger crowd and based on a true story of a family captured by Native Americans and sold into slavery to the British. Before I read this book, I didn't have a clue that this was apart of the history. It's incredible, the lack of my knowledge, I know. A family of white settlers survives the Indians capture, sold into British slavery, half are thrown in the stockades, and then their journey home. It held my attention several reads through, and its one I'll recommend to my own kids when they're older.

  • Michelle Young
    2018-11-29 01:39

    I read this in fifth or sixth grade, and loved it. I appreciate fiesty heroines, of course, but my favorite parts where when the French suitor buys Miriam a cup of real hot chocolate, and when the French governor's wife offers her a luxurious bolt of fabric and she gives it to her good friend Hortense. Oh! I love this book. Where is my copy? Gotta read it again...

  • Laura (Book Scrounger)
    2018-11-16 22:38

    Elizabeth George Speare was one of my favorite authors during my adolescent years. I fell in love with The Bronze Bow, and really enjoyed The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I loved how Speare incorporated romance into her stories in a very subtle way, and how her endings always seemed to finish on just the right note.Somehow I never got around to reading this one, until a few months ago when I found it at a used book sale. Overall I really enjoyed it -- unlike her other works of historical fiction, this one is actually based on true events. It's the story of a family who is captured by Abenaki Indians in the mid-1700s and taken to Montreal where they are sold to the French. This story focuses not on Susanna Johnson who eventually wrote the narrative of these events, but on her teenage sister Miriam. Part of me wishes I'd read this as a teenager, because I would probably have identified more with Miriam -- not that I don't now, but I also identified with her older sister who was separated from most of her young children, which scares me far more than the other events of this story.I liked the way that Miriam eventually takes responsibility and works to better her situation. In the beginning it was really hard to understand what was going on in her head -- being captured by Indians but worrying more about how dirty her dress was getting than her sister's children? (Hence why I identify more with Susanna.)I liked the "love triangle" as well, especially the way it ends up. It's similar to the endings of Speare's other books, where there is just enough of a hint to know what is going to happen, but the story ends before it quite gets to be completely resolved -- it's a great spark for the imagination.

  • Annette
    2018-11-21 02:36

    This is the beautifully written first novel of Elizabeth George Speare. Although I enjoyed all of her other books, this one is my favorite. I am completely baffled as to why this is the only book by Ms. Speare that did not win a Newbery award. I love all of the characters! I love the high-spirited, red-haired main character, Miriam Willard, as well as her delightful, and good natured, best friend, Hortense. I couldn't help but admire her sister, Susanna's quiet, steady strength as she endured one heartwrenching trial after another. I laughed out loud at the tall and handsome, Pierre's quick and clever wit.Ms. Speare is such a good writer, I was entranced from the very beginning all the way to the very end. I really enjoyed watching Miriam go from being a self-absorbed teenager to a self-confident young woman. Through her many harrowing experiences she learns important life lessons about love and loyalty. I'm sure that one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because C.M. Herbert did such an excellent job of reading it. I listened to the Blackstone Audiobook version on CD and Ms. Herbert did a beautiful job, especially on the characters with French accents. I couldn't wait to put the next CD in so I could find out what would happen next.So basically what I'm saying is, Calico Captive is very well written and well worth the read. I highly recommend it!

  • Audrey
    2018-11-15 22:37

    This was just as good as I remembered! There is just the right mix of adventure, suspense, romance, friendship, and character growth . . . and ball gowns and hot chocolate. Plus, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting. I think this would make a great movie, if done right. My favorite parts of the book are once they get to Montreal (thankfully, that's the majority of the book). I just love how the city at this period is brought to life. Elizabeth George Speare is a master at bringing history alive, and this book is no exception. It made me want to read more books that take place in New France and/or during the French and Indian War. (view spoiler)[It was really sad how the family was divided up. I'm so glad that they were finally all reunited; it was kind of stressing me out that they might not be! (hide spoiler)]Highly recommended.P.S. I like the fact that this has illustrations. Maybe it's just me, but young adult and adult books don’t seem to have illustrations as much as they used to.

  • Melinda Ross
    2018-12-05 03:40

    This book is based on a true story of a family living in Connecticut during the French and Indian war. The family is kidnapped by Indians who had sided with the French. They are forced to march north and then are at periodic times turned over to the French. The family is scattered and must work hard to try to find their way back to each other. The original book was written by the older sister--Susanna years after the ordeal (and was actually made into a made for TV movie years ago). Speare takes the story and tells it from the younger sister's point of view. Though this is the only book Speare was not recognized by the Newberry people for, it is still a wonderful read. I love Miriam's courage not only in the face of the Indians but also her gumption when faced with the proper French. I am always on the look out for books with strong female characters and this one definitely fits the bill.

  • Kjirstin
    2018-11-13 00:36

    Calico Captive is one of my favorite books from childhood; I picked it up in the library when I was 9 or 10 and consistently returned to it over time.The story is set during the French and Indian Wars before the American Revolution; the main character, Miriam, lives with her sister, Susannah and her husband and several small children. They are taken captive by Indians, then eventually traded to the French to live in Montreal, where they serve as domestic staff to a wealthy family.Miriam's story captures these events through the eyes of a teenager, and her sometimes quite self-centered reactions to what was happening. My favorite parts of the books were the descriptions of the French people who lived in Montreal at the time, and their balls and lifestyle. This book is very different than the rough-hewn pioneer accounts that characterize most early American stories, and fun because it gives a face to a period of American history that you don't hear a whole lot about.

  • Laura Verret
    2018-12-10 22:15

    A very interesting book, really. Miriam Willard, the Calico Captive, is kidnapped along with the rest of her family by hostile Indians. After a hazardous journey and a close shave at an Indian camp, Miriam and her family are sold as slaves to a French settlement in Canada. While Miriam's brother is trying to arrange for their ransom, the French and Indian War breaks out complicating matters and throwing Miriam and James' wife Susanna on their own abilities. Will Miriam and her family ever escape? I really liked the first part of the book, but the latter part of the book wasn't as good (in my humble opinion). Miriam's inability to make a clear decision between Pierre Laroche and Phineas Whitney aggravated me.

  • Lily Sacharow
    2018-11-29 22:12

    This is one of my favorite novels from my elementary school days when I was infatuated with Native Americans and their customs. The novel is based upon the story of Susanna Johnson (although the story is centered around her younger sister, Miriam) a captive of the Abenakis Indians. Along with her family, Miriam is taken away from home and traded from the Indian society into an elite French community. I picked this one up again because I recall how taken by it I was when I first read it; though it was not as powerfully effective as it was at age 10, I found it still to be an entertaining read. It is certainly not just recommendable for fifth graders.

  • Olivia
    2018-12-11 00:41

    This book left me sooo mad. And I really don't know why. A typical story of a young girl kidnapped by Indians and how she earned her freedom. However, she ends up dumping a couple guys along the way, and although I don't necessarily think she should have married them like they wanted her too, she got rid of them in a shameful and disgraceful way. She had no concern for their feelings. Okay for younger readers, however, I would, as a parent, discuss the views of Miriam and her suitors with my child.

  • Lissa
    2018-11-23 01:26

    I wish I had read this book as a fifth or sixth grader, because it would have been my favorite (just like The Witch of Blackbird Pond). I loved how feisty the heroine is, even when she gets wrapped up in wanting to be glamorous, and I really didn't expect the ending, but it was definitely believable. Also, because I am super nerdy, I went from liking it to loving it when I found out it was based on a true story.

  • AlixJamie
    2018-11-26 05:12

    Elizabeth George Speare is one of my favorite girlhood authors. Every book I've read by her has been excellent. I loved the romance and adventure this book held and also the strong themes of marital love, friendship, and family ties. Ms. Speare is an excellent writer! Highly recommended!

  • Grace Sun
    2018-12-11 02:23

    This book was pretty good. I generally like EGS books. It is about colonial America as well as about France and Native Americans. It has action and a trace of romance

  • Tracy
    2018-11-22 04:30

    Well-written historical fiction for young people. There aren't many stories set in colonial America during the Seven Years/French & Indian War. I loved this story when I was elementary-age. At that time, the early part of the story detailing Miriam and her family's lives with Native Americans was my favorite part of the book. Decades later, I find Miriam's life in Montreal more interesting. Since this makes up about 3/4 of the story, it was a nice change from my original readings!

  • Angie
    2018-11-23 22:29

    All right. We're stretching back a ways this time around and featuring a book written by a very well-known author but oft overlooked in favor of its famous big sib. I know there are plenty of you The Witch of Blackbird Pond fans out there. I am one of you. How could you not love wonderful, brash Kit Tyler? And Hannah and Nat and Mercy? I loved it back when I was a little girl and my mom read it to me and I love it now when I re-read it for myself. In fact, after I finished it the first time, I immediately ran out to find what else Elizabeth George Speare had written and the first one I came across was CALICO CAPTIVE. I immediately liked the cover and the bright yellow spine. I read the back (back when I used to engage in that dangerous activity) and hoped that this Miriam would be as endearing and interesting as Kit. Her adventures seemed to be even more wild and that gave me an additional dose of hope. I'm always in favor of a good swashbuckle or two. I own the above middle copy and I actually think it represents the story quite well, early nineties styling and all. In many ways, CALICO CAPTIVE echoes the richness and beauty of The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and at the same time it is quite a different story. First published back in 1957, CALICO CAPTIVE is based on a true story and was actually Speare's first novel. At times it is even more fraught with danger and the two heroines are very different girls, in search of awfully different things in life. Once again, however, Speare just hits it out of the park when it comes to the atmosphere of the times and her portrayal of women and the lives they led. Sixteen-year-old Miriam Willard lives with her family in the New Hampshire colony. And on the night in 1754 in which our story begins, she is experiencing her first real party. The soldiers from the nearby fort have come out for the occasion and everywhere there are candles and music and dancing. It proves to be everything she hoped it would be down to the lingering conversation at the end with quiet and handsome Phineas Whitney. Phineas is off to Harvard within a couple of weeks to study medicine and, with the French and Indian war still raging, he is not sure when he will see Miriam again. They would both very much like to continue their acquaintance and Miriam sends him off that night with high hopes they will get to know each other better over the next few weeks. Then, disaster strikes. In the middle of the night their homestead is attacked by Indians bent on capturing the family and marching them all the way to Montreal to be sold into slavery. The journey is harsh and dangerous and Miriam is terrified for herself and for her sister and her young children who are forced to make the march together. Separated in Montreal, Miriam fear she will never see her family again. Sold to an opulent and well-to-do French Canadien family, Miriam's life takes a bizarre and jarring twist as she serves as a ladies maid to the Du Quesne family. There she encounters a level of refinement and lust for life that she has never before fathomed. She also meets the coureur du bois Pierre Laroche and with such an acquaintance, it seems that many more cords slip around her, tying her to solitude and this strange land.Miriam is a survivor and that is what I like best about her. She never gives up on her family--her sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews. She is many times overwhelmed, threatened, angry, and frightened. Yet she never gives in to despair or hatred. I loved her time in Montreal because she was able to embrace the new culture, despite her appalling situation. She made friends with her captors and employers and she saw a different view of the world. I had no idea which way the wind would blow for Miriam in the end and, though I appreciated the fine attributes of both faraway Phineas and very-much-in-the-flesh Pierre, I was pleased with the denouement and the decisions borne of hope that Miriam made in the end. Ms. Speare excels at presenting both sides of every story, at showing every group from the Indians to the French nobility, to the stiff Puritan stock of New Hampshire, in both light and shadow so that the reader gets a feel for just why these wildly diverse groups were fighting. Through Miriam's eyes we are allowed to experience the world at that wild and significant point in time and I have never forgotten what I saw the first time I read it. The harsh reality of her place in the world and the grim and often unbearable truth of those around her haunt Miriam throughout the novel. She does not forget easily, yet she is also one of the only characters to push back against the dizzying tide. By the end, I believed she could do what she said she would because I had watched her adapt time and time again. A truly fascinating read and definitely recommended for Speare fans, as well as those interested in captivity narratives or the early days of North American settlement.

  • Emily Ellsworth
    2018-11-30 05:25

    Calico Captive was Elizabeth George Speare's first novel. Another one you might recognize of hers was "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." Calico Captive was inspired by the journals of Susanna Willard Johnson, who was captured by Indians in 1754 (during the French and Indian War). Susanna was captured, along with all her family, including a 14-year-old sister that became Miriam in the story. The book details their capture, and captivity in the indian settlement St. Francis. They were later sold to the French and spent nearly three years in Montreal. Most of the family was split up, and it was many years and under different circumstances that they were finally united.I really loved "Witch of Blackbird Pond." And, while this book didn't have that same suspense, it was a fantastic historical fiction novel. It really was amazing to see the changes that occured within many of the characters in the story, and just the strength that they had to endure while waiting for their family to be united. My one issue with this story is that I wasn't really happy with the way the romance ended for Miriam, but it was understandable. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

  • Savanna
    2018-12-07 01:15

    Summary: This book is a historical fiction novel about a girl named Miriam. Miriam and her sister’s family are kidnapped by Indians and split up. One of the boys is taken in by the Indians, the sister is kept as a slave in an Indian camp, Miriam is sold to a French family in Canada, both of the little girls are taken into different families, the brother-in-law is sent to get the ransom to free the family. This is the story of Miriam in this difficult time and how her family is reunited. I liked this book but it also made me a little uncomfortable about how the Indians were portrayed; it was accurate, but still. Also the main character, Miriam, was whinnying too much for my taste.Historical Fiction NovelWARNING: This novel has scalps, tears, and may be considered to be negative towards Indians.

  • Jill
    2018-12-09 04:39

    There were two books I read in sixth grade that impacted me enough to remember I loved them 17 years later. This was one of the two. The storytelling, the characters, the description of crossing rivers and the living conditions were captivating. I appreciate the story now more than I did years ago. The struggle the characters dealt with as their long-held prejudices were altered by circumstances far out of their control was captivating. I was so drawn into the story that I was reading it in a doctor's appointment, he at my side reviewing treatment possibilities. I was embarrassingly caught in my diversion and did come back to the present but curled up with the book again as soon as I came home. I really loved this book. Can you tell? It's a wonder I haven't read all of Elizabeth George Speare's books.

  • Marklessgirl
    2018-11-17 00:20

    Reread September 2017;Taking this down to four stars, I liked it still, but it was not the same as I remembered. And just not a five star book anymore.Content:scary-ness with indians and all that, but nothing really happens because they were not bad to them. A man gets drunk and some idle language very briefly (not any hard language, but they do use " devil" as swear word. First time:Five stars! My heart was always so with the family and rooting for them. And I was just in the same mindset for most of the book as the main character I really love this book so much it might not be my favorite by the author but it's definitely one of them. I learned stuff and this is one that is highly highly highly recommend. The romance is so sweet and believable. And the character development is amazing!

  • Nicole
    2018-11-15 21:24

    A good historical fiction book with a touch of romance. I found the characters a bit hard to relate to though....This story is based on the true story of a girl and her sisters family settled in the New World. It follows them as they get attacked and captured by Indians and then taken to Quebec, Canada. It has a good story line and I like that the characters are resourceful but I find them very hard to relate to. The main character has an intense hatred for the Indians, which, though I know it is historically accurate, seems unfounded and immature. That is my only complaint about this book. :)

  • Melinda
    2018-11-15 03:29

    I really enjoyed this book. I randomly saw it on the shelf at the library and checked it out because I enjoyed Witch of Blackbird Pond. Not sure how I made to 40 years old not knowing Elizabeth George Speares was an excellent writer. I liked this book as much as Witch of Blackbird Pond. I like her ability to write historical fiction with a hint of youthful romance. It inspired me to research more about the French and Indian War, an event in history I admit I don't know much about. I would recommend this book. It's worthy of adding to a historical fiction reading list.

  • Rusticgirl
    2018-11-20 05:25

    If I could I would rate this book 500000... This is the best book by Elizabeth George Speare, the best book for fiction, the best book for historical fiction, the best book with a girl as a main charater, the best all around book in the world. This book is about Miriam Willard who falls in love with a man, but is captured by indians, sold to the canadians, has a young french man fall in love with her,and then in the end...well you'll just have to read it yourself...