- 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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The Whale: A Love Story: A Novel Hardcover – June 14, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
—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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Clever and engaging . . . Beauregard presents Hawthorne as Melville’s own white whale, the object of his obsession.”
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An interesting tale of the mixed fortunes and the difficulties that pocked Melville's career in the face of the successes of Hawthorne. Ironically, his "Whale Tale" would ultimately emerge as the great American novel of quest, romance and frustration - underpinned by his suspected frustrated love and quest for his Nathaniel.
But reality hinders the fancies the tale could have taken. The passion was never consummated and their thwarted love thwarts the story proportionally.
Byron Edgington author of A Vietnam Anthem.A Vietnam Anthem: What The War Gave Me
The Amazon blurb on this (accurately) lays out the general structure of the book, so I won't bother to repeat. If you have any interest in Americana or the evolution of a great writer--including the emotional and economic challenges of 19th century life, The Whale is well worth your time. An excellent choice for summer reading, Beauregard's prose is easily digestible and beautifully constructed.
At it's core, it speaks to love, and also made me look at life in different ways. This is more than I expect - or receive - from much of what I read.
The story is engrossing, and feels for the most part like an adventure. I felt for both main characters, and could see there was no right or wrong. Even though I picked a side, the author never did.
Would recommend this to people who like romance, intrigue, and thoughtfulness.,
I became aware of this novel about a month before its release while perusing the internet for content analyzing the complex relationship between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Let's just say I was ecstatic beyond expression when I learned of The Whale: A Love Story's existence. For years now I have been intrigued by the two author's passion and regard for each other. There is absolutely no doubt that Herman Melville was madly in love with Nathaniel Hawthorne and that Hawthorne loved Melville in his own right; but the question I have been turning over in my brain all these years is whether Hawthorne ended their attachment because he strictly loved Melville in a platonic sense, or if he ended it because he felt a desire and passion towards Melville that society and his own conscience would not allow him to act upon? Mark Beauregard has not only answered this question, but he has convinced me wholeheartedly that the latter must be the truth.
Beauregard brought these historical literary figures who lived and died many years ago back to life within the book's pages, crafting an equally beautiful and heart-wrenching narrative of love, friendship, and obsession that grasps the reader and refuses to let go even after the final page has been turned. Beauregard depicts two of the greatest writer's to come out of the flourishing 19th century literary scene in the most vulnerable and human way, as if he has peered into the past and witnessed the innermost characteristics of their souls. Beauregard stayed as true to historical fact as he could with the information that has been preserved, and he filled in missing details in the most alluring and wonderful way. The romance between the two men was brilliantly crafted and deeply moving, and the rest of the novel's characters were so well written and added so much depth to the story. Not only should fans of Melville and Hawthorne like myself read this book, but anybody in general who loves a good story.
(Since writing this review, I have had the pleasure of meeting Mark Beauregard in person and he is a such a genuinely kind and insightful person! So much research, hard work, passion, and heart went into the writing of this novel and it is truly a delight to read over and over again!)
Top international reviews
Non è semplice scrivere una recensione su questo libro senza fare spoiler. Ho un debole per i romanzi storici, soprattutto quelli basati su storie vere. The Whale: A Love Story racconta la vita di Herman Melville durante il periodo in cui scrisse Moby Dick, ma soprattutto il suo amore - illecito e sfortunato - per Nathaniel Hawthorne, autore de La Lettera Scarlatta, che ha dato vera forma alla sua opera.
Inizia tutto nell'estate del 1850 e, nonostante il libro si concluda più di un anno dopo, i momenti più brillanti sono proprio quelli che accadono durante le stagioni calde. Come nei più classici romanzi ottocenteschi, Melville si innamora di Hawthorne a prima vista, e non solo è attratto da lui, ma trova in Nathaniel un'anima affine che lo capisce meglio di chiunque altro al mondo. E' evidente fin da subito che il sentimento è reciproco. Il problema è - oltre alle ovvietà del periodo storico - che entrambi sono sposati e padri di famiglia, e se Melville è incastrato in un matrimonio di convenienza e non si farebbe grosse remore morali a tradire la moglie, per Hawthorne non è lo stesso. Lui si è sposato per amore, ritiene che con sua moglie si siano "salvati a vicenda", quindi non vuole assolutamente tradirla e allontana Herman più volte.
Se da una parte ci si ritrova a fare il tifo per Melville, dall'altra non ho potuto fare a meno di ammirare la decisione di Hawthorne, che per rispetto della moglie e dei figli rifiuta di cedere ai propri sentimenti. La fine del libro ti spezza un po' il cuore, ma allo stesso tempo ti da quella soddisfazione che aspettavi pagina dopo pagina.
E' un libro sui libri, è un libro sullo *scrivere* libri, sul rapporto tra due scrittori che si scambiano consigli e parlano di filosofia - e chi scrive e ha amici che scrivono sa bene di cosa si tratta - ma soprattutto è una storia d'amore in cui è fin troppo facile immedesimarsi, perché chi non ha mai sofferto per un amore non corrisposto? O forse sarebbe più giusto dire che *non può* essere corrisposto. Tra l'altro, anche se l'autore non l'avesse specificato sul finale, è evidente quante ricerche ci siano alla base del romanzo; quasi tutte le lettere di Melville sono autentiche e lo stile di Beauregard si mescola perfettamente con esse senza diventare troppo pesante o aulico.
Unica nota di demerito all'edizione paperback della Penguin; ho avuto fortuna e l'ho trovata a due euro e spiccioli, quindi non posso lamentarmi troppo, ma è davvero scadente per il suo prezzo di copertina. In particolare la cover si rovina troppo facilmente, gli spigoli della costa si sono consumati subito nonostante io tratti i libri con estrema cura.