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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It was an interesting take on a familiar subject (I hated Moby Dick!). It was a bit to fantastic for me, though. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Judith Pierce
I was enjoying this book until I came to the part of Una's marriage to Ahab. I found the whole idea ridiculous that he would "marry" her just by declaring to her that she... Read morePublished 20 days ago by bookworm
certainly a great story....Naslund grasps the essence of living on an Island, life at sea and the historic significance of our whaling history.Published 20 days ago by Denise Moore
I love this book so very much and have read it multiple times since I first picked it up forever and ever ago. Read morePublished 24 days ago by jamie lisa
Well written story of the outer and inner life of Ahabs wife. Very rich in detail and image of a woman's journey, in the real, imaginative and spiritual life.Published 1 month ago by Mary Ho
Cannot seem to finish this book. Too much narrative and the story just seems to drag along. Really would not recommend this book.Published 1 month ago by Barbara J Demusz