Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer

Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer

4.0 125
by Sena Jeter Naslund

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ISBN-10: 0061767654

ISBN-13: 2900061767653

Pub. Date: 05/19/2009

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last." This is destined to be remembered as one of the most-recognized first sentences in literature--along with "Call me Ishmael." Sena Jeter Naslund has created an entirely new universe with a transcendent heroine at its center who will be every bit as memorable as Captain Ahab. Ahab's Wife is a novel on a grand


"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last." This is destined to be remembered as one of the most-recognized first sentences in literature--along with "Call me Ishmael." Sena Jeter Naslund has created an entirely new universe with a transcendent heroine at its center who will be every bit as memorable as Captain Ahab. Ahab's Wife is a novel on a grand scale that can legitimately be called a masterpiece: beautifully written, filled with humanity and wisdom, rich in historical detail, authentic and evocative. Melville's spirit informs every page of her tour de force. Una Spenser's marriage to Captain Ahab is certainly a crucial element in the narrative of Ahab's Wife, but the story covers vastly more territory. After a spellbinding opening scene, the tale flashes back to Una's childhood in Kentucky; her idyllic adolescence with her aunt and uncle's family at a lighthouse near New Bedford; her adventures disguised as a cabin boy on a whaling ship; her first marriage to a fellow survivor who descends into violent madness; courtship and marriage to Ahab; life as mother and a rich captain's wife in Nantucket; involvement with Frederick Douglass; and a man who is in Nantucket researching his novel about his adventures on her ex-husband's ship. Ahab's Wife is a breathtaking, magnificent, and uplifting story of one woman's spiritual journey, informed by the spirit of the greatest American novel, but taking it beyond tragedy to redemptive triumph.

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Ahab's Wife 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
CathyB More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel. At times, I found certain scenes/chapters to be a bit tedious; however, for the most part, it was quite enjoyable. Ms. Naslund was able to create a memorable character and story that can stand on their own. Moby Dick, what is that? Well, there did need to be the slightest mention of a wife in the original classic in order for this novel to be believable. The idea was original and the plot held true to the events of Moby Dick. I found it satisfying to hear about the events from a woman's perspective. Any lengthy discription of whaling would have put me to sleep instantly. This is a beautifully written novel and would be perfect for a book club discussion. I recommend this book for those who like historical fiction (whether or not they have read Moby Dick).
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Ahab's Wife' is a gracefully written book that is composed of raw emotion. It is set in an interesting period of American history and is beautifully written and described. Una's character is wonderful and her harrowing experiences in such a crude era show us the limit of human suffering. But it are her loves that prove stronger than pain. The narration and dialogue are spectacular and much of the writing shines in the descriptions. I love this book so much and I have probably read it 7 or 8 times. Read it yourself - or- share the love and lend it to your friends.
JKrickettt More than 1 year ago
I recently decided to read the classics of old and having never read Moby Dick, I thought that I would perhaps try Ahab's Wife as a way of merging classic with modernism. The chapters are too tedius as naslund waste time on redundant wording. Each chapter seems to be as plain as the next. There is no excitement and the book has made me feeling one with the whales...diving deeper only to eascape it. However, I don't like to start something and not finish but this book is a slow read for me. It has potential but unforunately Naslund has cast doubts on me to ever read Moby Dick as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Moby Dick when I read it a long time ago, but I remember that Ahab came across as a very angry and very troubled man. This author gives another picture of Ahab through the eyes of his wife and family and paints an engrossing picture of the wife's life before and after Ahab. It reads like 19th century literature which I appreciate and can't find much anymore. I particularly liked the descriptions of the lighthouse island, the coast and the sea.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up after reading the reviews posted here. I found this book TEDIOUS!!! It was too long and very boring. Life is to short to read bad books. Don't bother with this one.
dollynotlolly More than 1 year ago
This was one of those books whose characters still live in my mind, a good month after I finished the book. The story is highly creative, is peppered with surprises, and uses a great setting. I highly recommend this book to women who like brave heroines, don't like predictability and don't mind a little quirkiness. I found it charming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Made me want to go back a read Moby Dick again. A whole new take on Ahab.
MaddieHj More than 1 year ago
I adore this book and consider it a perfect companion to Moby Dick, my favorite classic. I love the fact that Naslund took one small mention of a wife and child from Moby Dick and fleshed out an entire character with a lifetime of incredible experiences. Her narrative gives us compassion for Ahab, insight into life on the ocean and the frontier, and a first-row view of the contemporary issues facing women and society in the 19th century. It's beautifully and memorably written. My daughter read, and I reread, Moby Dick and Ahab's Wife together last summer as our "summer reading project" and had wonderful discussions around both books. I don't reread many books -- too many on my list! -- but this is one I would be happy to pick up again every year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was almost a very good book. Concept of revealing the female side of the whaling community life is great, and as a historian I see the familiarity with serious professional research (on women's lives, commonness of male bisexuality) that underlies the fiction. Plot is great, but the 'poetic' language is too heavy-handed. And overall, I was never allowed to forget that this was a commentary on Melville - the story doesn't quite take off on its own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this novel to be excellent. The author had an incredible talent for making her words and thoughts flow nicely with almost a poetic nature. The storyline was excellent and really gave me a lot of history ( I hate reading straight forward history ) during this era. I did not realize there were extraordinary women of this era such as UNA and most of her female friends in the book.....real pioneers. This book was probably one of the best books I have ever read for it's literary content and style of writing....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is too dry, told in the first person but without passion
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A powerful story and beautifully written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very long story, but oh so well written. Highly recommend!
numba4 More than 1 year ago
a story you'll never forget!
Starluv9227 More than 1 year ago
This book was such a joy to read. I thought about this book when I wasn't reading it and couldn't get back to read it fast enough. Although this book is long, it teaches you things about History as well as Fictional characters as well such as Moby Dick. This book is very well written and makes you feel like you are part of the book. I cried and laughed and it made you think about what it was like back in the early 1900's to be a woman, who not only fought with her self about independence, but the right to do things that man can do as well. It uplifts your spirit about how people helped "Black" people during the times of slavery and it helps you understand the way women felt when their men left on their whaling ships for years on end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book after it was recommended by a coworker. I really wanted to like it. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and as a native of Massachusetts I thought I'd appreciate the setting in old time Nantucket. Unfortunately, I didn't really start to enjoy this book until about page 300. The first half of the story dragged and was quite boring. However, I read quickly though the second half of the book and enjoyed the characters. I don't feel like I wasted my time reading this, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Melisan More than 1 year ago
I wanted to gallop through this book because the story was compelling, and slowly savor it because it held such gorgeous language. This was a lovely story and I will be looking up more by this author.
Dakotamouse More than 1 year ago
I have 100 pages left. This could have benefited from more aggressive editing. The constant liberal preaching is tedious. I like the history and the glimpse into the whaling industry but if this is the author's style I won't be trying anymore of her works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! Very well written - visualizations are outstanding. I felt like I was there with the characters. Def recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is so well written that it invites comparison to some of the greatest classics in American literature. It really is several novels woven seamlessly together as one. I enjoyed it immensely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too bad I bought the book before I realized how long it is. Never even started it. I want a book to entertain me, or enlighten me. Not own me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didnt have enough trouble getting hit by lightning and bit by a white whale he has this second wife to contend with. Surprising that the third movie remake of moby dick brings in the wife as deeply religious who fears her husband will pay for his lost faith if he ever had any and lazaras prediction is made to her and not ishmael. in movie had several children a real soap opera everything but the kitchen sink buska