Ahab's Wife Or The Star-gazer Author:Sena Jeter Naslund A rich epic, drawn from the classic Moby Dick, chronicles the life of Una Spenser, wife of the immortal Captain Ahab, from her Kentucky childhood, through her adventures disguised as a whaling ship cabin boy, to her various marriages.
I read this book for a class I was taking at university: Gender Studies. One warning: you really should have read Moby Dick before reading this.
As an English major, I could go on and on, but I won't. That sort of textual critique is all well and good for scholars, but not for someone who wants to enjoy a good book
The novel is very well written, lyrical even. Having grown up on the east coast, I can tell that the author did a great deal of research into the habits, social culture, and whaling culture of the time. The problem is that for me it is perhaps a bit too beautiful.
It begins with the main character in labor, about to give birth to her first child. Soon events in her life lead her to begin a reverie in which she returns to her childhood (age 12) and reflects on the events which set her on the patch to her present situation. The book eventually ends up at a point past Ahab's death (I told you that you should have read Moby Dick first!).
During her childhood years, the adult storyteller is adding beautiful, reflective, spiritual, lyrical terms which a child wouldn't know. To me, it felt like there was no growth to the character, there was no change from the child at the beginning to the adult at the end. Always a deep thinker, always somehow able to get what she wanted. It just didn't ring true for me.
I certainly liked this better than I liked Moby Dick, but that's not saying a heck of a lot... this book is much better than its inspiration. Una is a heroine who is a unique combination of strength and loner, and her story tells of the sort of life that many of us women wish we could live -- many adventures, many chapters to her life, all different and all rich in their own ways.
Although overly detailed in places, this is one heck of a good read.
This book is a wonderful story inspired by the book Moby Dick. You do not need to have read Moby Dick to enjoy this novel, it is a wonderful work of fiction that stands on its own. The writing is superb, and the characters very compelling. A must read for people who enjoy "literary fiction."
AFter reading this book, I also bought "The Sinking of the Whaleship Essex" wish is the true story of a boat sunk by a whale. This true adventure was the inspiration for the idea of Moby Dick. If you enjoy historical fiction, check this one out.
Both Ahabs Wife and the Sinking of the Whaleship Essex are part of my permanent collection.
Susie H. reviewed Ahab's Wife : Or, The Star-gazer on
Helpful Score: 4
I read this book years ago, referred by my Mom. It was fabulous and I still wait for another gripping writing by the same author. It truly puts you in the eyes of Capt Ahabs wife and what the women thru in the era. I actually love it so much, I won't give it up and will read it many more times to come. Enjoy!!
One of my top ten favorite books ever! This author weaves a brilliant tale with insanely unexpected twists & turns. Her main character, Una, feels like a friend as she is telling her character-building life story. A brilliant novel that I could not wait to finish, yet did not want to even end...
I thought this book was boring. Everything was described to minute detail...I just wanted it to get on with the story. I almost quit reading it several times but made myself finish it. It didn't get any better to me. Too much angst!
This was a FABULOUS book. I loved following the heroine through her adventures, her misadventures, and her life. Her story had seasons of purity and joy, and then there were the seasons of depravity and horror. Just like a life well lived! I will confess that I skimmed a few small parts of the story, especially when Ahab was talking too much (just like he does in Moby Dick - ha!), but that only heightened my pleasure knowing that I could skim-read parts of it and still be swept along in the tidal wave of the story. Even weeks after I have read it, parts of this book still often come to mind. 5 stars!