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Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer: A…
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Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer: A Novel (P.S.) (original 1999; edition 2009)

by Sena Jeter Naslund

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2,490None2,469 (4.04)1 / 129
Member:daddyofattyo
Title:Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Sena Jeter Naslund
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 704 pages
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Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund (1999)

19th century (26) 20th century (12) adventure (12) Ahab (21) American (26) book club (21) cannibalism (13) Captain Ahab (16) fiction (419) first edition (11) historical (27) historical fiction (182) Kentucky (15) lighthouses (18) literary fiction (11) literature (22) marriage (11) Massachusetts (21) Moby Dick (94) Nantucket (32) New England (58) novel (56) own (15) read (25) romance (16) sea (19) to-read (70) unread (26) whaling (81) women (37)
  1. 41
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (ecleirs24)
    ecleirs24: Cause this novel is based upon a passage from Mobi Dick......
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Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Just a lovely book. I loved the narrator's voice as she told of her life in a Kentucky cabin, as the semi-adopted child of lighthouse keepers, aboard a whaling ship, and on Nantucket as the wife of Captain Ahab. It was long. A few subplots could have been edited out with no loss to the story. But overall it was such a lyrical, enchanting read that I forgave it its long-windedness. ( )
  mazeway | Feb 14, 2014 |
This is a beautifully written book. I can't say enough about Sena Jeter Naslund's prose. Two of the reviews quoted on the cover and first page say so perfectly what I mean. The LA Times said "Lyrical...alluring and wise," while the NY Times Book Review says "Her Una is a deep and wayward creature, undaunted by convention, whose descriptions are dense with a lanquid and sensual interest in the world."

The story itself is the story of Una, a Kentucky girl of twelve years, who leaves her home to live with her aunt. The story follows this unusual female through her adventures as a cabin boy aboard a whaling ship, as a shipwreck survivor, as the wife of a madman, of a ship captain (Ahab), as a single mother raising a son, to her life alone after he moves to town for school. But never, really, is Una alone. She has a strength of character that drenches the page; an ability to use her mind to create, entertain, learn and teach; a capacity to chart her own course that surely is unusual in the early 19th century; and a confidence in herself that astounds.

When I started the book I did not realize that the author grew up here in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. To me that made the book even more astonishing, given her detailed characterizations of life on the sea and the whaling, given our landlocked common home.

Need I say I recommend this book highly? It is not a quick read. The story moves slowly but you don't want to miss a word, a description, of Naslund's prose. ( )
  wareagle78 | Feb 3, 2014 |
I loved this book, and yet didn't care to finish it. It was a brief affair. ( )
  LarissaGBrown | Dec 26, 2013 |
Really great story, but the character stays the same through the entire book! ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Nov 12, 2013 |
The story of Moby Dick's Captain Ahab's wife. The daughter of a tyrannical father, Una is brought to stay with an aunt and uncle and thier daughter on an island off the New England coast. Her mother had realized the father would probably end up killing her. The book follows Una through her loves as she continually faces tragedies and heartaches. Long, but well written. ( )
  camplakejewel | Oct 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Naslund, the author of four previous books of fiction, is most successful here sentence to sentence, where her gift for pleasure shines. Her Una is a deep and wayward creature, undaunted by convention, whose descriptions are dense with a languid and sensual interest in the world. Unlike Ahab, Una can wait. She is not driven; for her, the world is enough.
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sena Jeter Naslundprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wormell, ChristopherIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
One must take off her fear like clothing; One must travel at night; This is the seeking after God. --Maureen Morehead, "In a Yellow Room"
Dedication
In Token Of My Admiration and Affection This Book Is Inscribed To John C. Morrison
First words
Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.
Quotations
A dart tipped with pleasure and feathered with pain passed through me.
How could I … become blind? What trajectory intended for me, determined by me, could include the subtracting of sight from the sense of me?
And I thought I would not tell… Though it left me a liar, it left me having placed a higher value on Charlotte’s happiness than on my own clean conscience. But was it not arrogance in me that made me think I knew best in the matter, that my hand at the stopcock had the wisdom to regulate the flow of truth?
Sometimes my mother and I stood and looked at our faces together in the oval mirror she had brought with her from the East. … Thus, elegantly framed, my mother and I made a double portrait of ourselves for memory, by looking in the mirror.
…I have ever feared the weathervane in me. Sometimes I point toward Independence, isolation. Sometimes I rotate – my back to Independence – and I need and want my friends, my family, with a force like a gale. … I do not count myself fickle, for I have much of loyalty in me, but I am changeable.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060838744, Paperback)

It has been said that one can see farther only by standing on the shoulders of giants. Ahab's Wife, Sena Naslund's epic work of historical fiction, honors that aphorism, using Herman Melville's Moby-Dick as looking glass into early-19th-century America. Through the eye of an outsider, a woman, she suggests that New England life was broader and richer than Melville's manly world of men, ships, and whales. This ambitious novel pays tribute to Melville, creating heroines from his lesser characters, and to America's literary heritage in general.

Una, named for the heroine of Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, flees to the New England coast from Kentucky to escape her father's puritanism and to pursue a more exalted life. She gets whaling out of her system early: going to sea at 16 disguised as a boy, Una has her ship sunk by her own monstrous whale, and survives a harrowing shipwreck:

I was so horrified by the whale's deliberate charge that I could not move. Then my own name flew up from below like a spear: "Una!" Giles' voice broke my trance, and I scrambled down the rigging. No sooner did my foot touch the deck than there was such a lurch that I fell to my face. I heard and felt the boards break below the waterline, the copper sheathing nothing but decorative foil. The whole ship shuddered. A death throe.
The ship dies, but Una returns to land to pursue the life of the mind. The novel's opening line--"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last"--also diminishes Melville's hero in the broader scheme of things. Naslund exposes the reader to the unsung, real-life heroes of Melville's world, including Margaret Fuller and her Boston salon, and Nantucket astronomer Maria Mitchell. There is a chance meeting with a veiled Nathaniel Hawthorne in the woods, and throughout the novel the story brims with references to the giants of literature: Shakespeare, Goethe, Coleridge, Keats, and Wordsworth. Although her novel runs long at nearly 700 pages, Naslund has created an imaginative, entertaining, and very impressive work. --Ted Leventhal

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:49 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A companion to Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," in which Una Spenser tells the story of her life, and discusses her loving marriage to Captain Ahab before the white whale took his leg and drove him into madness.

(summary from another edition)

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