Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel

4.03 avg rating
( 41,766 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780688177850: Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

From the opening line--"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last"--you will know that you are in the hands of a masterful storyteller and in the company of a fascinating woman hero. Inspired by a brief passage in Melville's Moby-Dick, where Captain Ahab speaks passionately of his young wife on Nantucket, Una Spenser's moving tale "is very much Naslund's own and can be enjoyed independently of its source." (Newsday)

The daughter of a tyrannical father, Una leaves the violent Kentucky frontier for the peace of a New England lighthouse island, where she simultaneously falls in love with two young men. Disguised as a boy, she earns a berth on a whaling ship where she encounters the power of nature, death, and madness, and gets her first glimpse of Captain Ahab. As Naslund portrays Una's love for the tragically driven Ahab, she magnificently renders a real, living marriage and offers a new perspective on the American experience. Immediately immersed in this world, the reader experiences a brilliantly written, vibrant, uplifting novel--a bright book of life.

Ahab's Wife was a main selection of the Book of the Month Club, chosen by Time magazine as one of the top five novels of 1999, selected by Book Sense as one of the top five books of the year, chosen by the New York Times as a Notable Book of 1999, and chosen as a Best Book by Publishers Weekly.

Ahab's Wife is being reprinted in Australia and England, translated into German, Hebrew, Spanish and Portuguese.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

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

About the Author:

Sena Jeter Naslund is a cofounder and program director of the Spalding University (Louisville) brief-residency MFA in Writing, where she edits The Louisville Review and Fleur-de-Lis Press. A winner of the Harper Lee Award and the Southeastern Library Association Fiction award, she is the author of eight previous works of fiction, including Ahab's Wife, a finalist for the Orange Prize. She recently retired from her position as Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Louisville.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780060838744: Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer: A Novel (P.S.)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0060838744 ISBN 13:  9780060838744
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, 2005
Softcover

9780688171872: Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer: A Novel

Willia..., 1999
Hardcover

9780061767654: Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer: A Novel

Willia..., 2009
Softcover

9780704346833: Ahab's Wife : Or the Star Gazer

Gardne..., 2001
Softcover

9781865082769: Ahab'S Wife: Or, the Star Gazer

Allen ...
Softcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Naslund, Sena Jeter
Published by HarpPeren (2000)
ISBN 10: 0688177859 ISBN 13: 9780688177850
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)

Book Description HarpPeren, 2000. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0688177859

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 13.69
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 15.00
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

2.

Naslund, Sena Jeter
Published by HarpPeren (2000)
ISBN 10: 0688177859 ISBN 13: 9780688177850
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
London Bridge Books
(London, United Kingdom)

Book Description HarpPeren, 2000. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0688177859 Dispatched from London. Seller Inventory # Z0688177859ZN

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 26.98
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 12.46
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

3.

Naslund, Sena Jeter
ISBN 10: 0688177859 ISBN 13: 9780688177850
New Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BennettBooksLtd
(San Diego, CA, U.S.A.)

Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # M-0688177859

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 81.57
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.95
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds

4.

Sena Jeter Naslund
Published by Harper Perennial (2000)
ISBN 10: 0688177859 ISBN 13: 9780688177850
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)

Book Description Harper Perennial, 2000. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0688177859

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 109.62
Convert currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 2.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, rates & speeds