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Search - Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer

Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer
Ahab's Wife Or The StarGazer
Author: Sena Jeter Naslund, Herman Melville, Christopher Wormell (Illustrator)
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...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780688177850
ISBN-10: 0688177859
Publication Date: 10/1/2000
Pages: 688
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 230 ratings
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

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.
WestofMars avatar 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
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!!
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.
Read All 78 Book Reviews of "Ahabs Wife Or The StarGazer"

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dukensa avatar 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.
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 18 more book reviews
A long book with many characters that Una the main character comes across. It looked to me that the author put a 20th century woman's way of thinking into the Una 19th century setting. She addresses slavery, and many women's issues. Good book, would recommend if you like a character that is progressive
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on
highly recommended ...
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 50 more book reviews
This book was quite good. I don't remember too much of Moby Dick but this was a good tale of Ahab's wife.And Ishmael appears at the end. Well written. Makes me want to head right to Nantucket.
bookgoddessme avatar reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 106 more book reviews
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...
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on + 122 more book reviews
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!
reviewed Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer on
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!


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