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The Whale: A Love Story: A Novel Hardcover – June 14, 2016

4.1 out of 5 stars 43 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne at a Massachusetts picnic, and the lives of both man were changed forever. In his debut novel, Beauregard weaves a tale based on the real-life relationship of two of America's most renowned novelists, following the interactions they shared while living as neighbors in the Berkshires. During this period, Hawthorne wrote The House of the Seven Gables and Melville completed Moby-Dick, which he dedicated to Hawthorne. This fictional biography is the story behind that dedication and the love affair that some believe the two men shared—a stormy romance that would scarcely be believable if not for the use of Melville's real letters to Hawthorne, many of which are reprinted in the book. The emotion of the affair can occasionally feel abrupt, but readers will come to reconsider what they know about the lives of the two authors, and those who approach with an open mind may find their views on the writings of Melville and Hawthorne permanently changed. (June)\n

Review

The Whale is fiction, of course, although the author is careful to depart as little as possible from the historical record, but the accuracy of the premise is of less interest than Beauregard’s immense skill in rendering Melville’s inner voice—an impressive feat of authorly ventriloquism. Beauregard has captured the true hide and grit of that God- and nature-haunted 19th-century mind in all its rough, baroque, oddly tender poetry.”
—The Washington Post

“Did Herman Melville write Moby-Dick because he was driven by a passion for Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom he dedicated the novel? . . . Some Melville scholars long have wondered whether two of American literature’s founding fathers had more than a close friendship and admiration for one another. . . . In The Whale, desire for Hawthorne sparks the midcentury creative fervor that produced Melville’s maritime saga.”
—The Wall Street Journal

“With scholarly precision, Beauregard assembles a world and constellation of characters out of painstaking and minute details. . . . The author shows a deft hand in unifying a compelling plot line with primary source material.”
—Harvard Review

“Beauregard’s skill as a novelist is such that he describes the intellectual, emotional, and physical attraction between two nineteenth-century men in a way that’s both moving and convincing. The Whale demonstrates that sometimes the only way to reach the truth of the human heart, as when voices from the past have been silenced or lost, is through the storyteller’s imagination.”
—Gay & Lesbian Review

“Half history, half imagination, this intimate look into the household and heart of Herman Melville is a quick, compulsive read. Beauregard’s Melville, still filled with hope and preoccupied with longing, is just in the process of wrestling his white whale onto the page. We meet him here with much pleasure, some amusement, and a great deal of pity. And are so happy not to be married to him.”
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“Vivid and beautifully written, smart, and achingly sensual, this novel is at once a passionate love story and a gripping portrait of an artist wrestling with himself on the cusp of his greatest achievement. A potent and transporting read.”
—Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles

“A brilliantly conceived, sparklingly written, carefully researched, and moving account of the surprising relationship between Hawthorne and Melville, as well as a credible and poignant story of the sufferings, sorrows, flights of fancy, and plain hard work that went into the writing of a great book: Moby Dick.”
—Sheila Kohler, author of Becoming Jane Eyre

“Mark Beauregard has written an engaging novel about one of the vivid episodes in the saga of American literature. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of Melville in the Berkshires, with his friend Hawthorne just down the road, and the way their combustive interactions led to the writing of the greatest American novel, Moby Dick. I read this novel with deep absorption. A first-class piece of fiction.”
—Jay Parini, author of The Passages of H. M.

“A fascinating exercise in fictional projection, The Whale imagines what has been lost to the impossible past—the veiled emotional details of the relationship between Melville and Hawthorne. The result is a lively, intriguing, and surprisingly amusing romp through the intimate gaps of literary history.”
—Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan or, the Whale and The Sea Inside

“A touching, stirring, tragic love story, wonderfully researched and compellingly told. The Whale succeeds as all the best historical fiction does, by giving readers fresh new insights about important events and persuading them that if things didn’t happen exactly this way, they should have.”
Ron Hansen, author of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
 
“Herman Melville once wrote that ‘it is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation.’ But Mark Beauregard’s quirky and exciting novel manages to be both utterly original and a delightful imitation. On the one hand, it’s a funny and philosophical fan fiction that incorporates real letters and journal entries from Melville and other leading literary figures of the mid-nineteenth century. On the other, it’s an exuberant new work from an innovative voice.”
—Miles Harvey, author of The Island of Lost Maps 

“Full of nuance and passion and an incredible amount of research, The Whale swirls around the relationship between Melville and Hawthorne, without losing its factual footing or sacrificing any storied intrigue.”
Refinery29

“Beauregard’s careful research, rich details, and inspired writing depict a relationship between Melville and Hawthorne that is both historically conceivable as well as believable. Fans of the two literary giants will enjoy the book, as Beauregard takes readers into the personal lives of these men and makes them come alive beyond their own literary works.”
—Historical Novel Society

“In Beauregard’s fittingly emotive account, Melville is preoccupied and fervent, and Hawthorne is changeable, by turns sensitive and cool. Set against a literary community that helped define American letters of the time, this high-spirited story evokes a singular relationship and the complexity of Moby-Dick.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Absorbing . . . Drawing from Melville’s letters, Beauregard offers up not only an inventive, fictional take on the deeply felt relationship between the two writers but also a sharp examination of the very real struggles Melville faced creatively and financially. For lovers of biography-driven historical fiction and American literary classics.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Beauregard explores the awakening of the American literary scene via the complicated psyches of two of its stars while brilliantly depicting the uncertainty, joy, and terror of discovering a soul mate. . . . A luminous narrative and a compelling psychological drama.”
—Library Journal

“Beauregard sustains a fine tension with the turbulent friendship. . . . The real treat here is watching how a distraught, impecunious romantic finds a way to set aside all distractions in pursuit of his artistic grail. . . . Rich in historical detail, this novel explores its themes of creativity and friendship with an unusual intensity.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne at a Massachusetts picnic, and the lives of both men were changed forever. . . . Readers will come to reconsider what they know about the two authors, and those who approach with an open mind may find their views on the writings of Melville and Hawthorne permanently changed.”
—Publishers Weekly 

“Clever and engaging . . . Beauregard presents Hawthorne as Melville’s own white whale, the object of his obsession.”
BookPage

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (June 14, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399562338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399562334
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Customer Reviews:
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,358,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
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