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Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer
Ahab's Wife Or The Star-Gazer
Author: Sena Jeter Naslund
"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 i...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780688171872
ISBN-10: 0688171877
Pages: 688
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.

3.6 stars, based on 45 ratings
Publisher: William Morrow
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 0
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reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 71 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
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.

Warning: This is a *long* one....668 pages.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 162 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
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.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 216 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
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.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
For the first time in my reading experience, I really FELT the ocean.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
It took me about 23 pages into the book before I was comfortable with the author's style of writing. She writes narratively, but poeticly, and once I got in the rhythm of her cadence, so to speak, I was hooked! There a moments that I was literally sobbing or rejoicing along with the character. This book is one of a very rare few that I will keep and read over and over again.
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reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 6 more book reviews
Strong female protagonist, gripping account of survival on a lifeboat, and a welcome fleshing-out of Ahab as someone more than a maniac pacing the deck.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 10 more book reviews
Loved the epic nature of this book. Like a number of recent novels, this uses as its basis a fictional literary figure and builds the story around that. Empathized with the main character, and liked how the opening paragraph told a bit about what would happen and whetted our appetite for the story.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 13 more book reviews
This is the story of Una, who is sent by her mother to live in a lighthouse in order to protect her from her religion-mad father. Una finds early passion with a sailor, then disguised as a cabin boy runs away to sea. It is the story of a real, loving marriage between Una and Ahab(from Moby Dick)before the white whale takes his leg and he descends in to madness. It is the story of how the widowed Una makes a new life for herself in the company of Margaret Fullers, Frederick Douglas and Ralph Waldo Emerson.