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Ahab's Wife (P.S.)by Sena Jeter Naslund
Synopses & Reviews
"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 is a novel on a grand scale that can legitimately be called a masterpiece: beautifully written, filled with humanity and wisdom, rich in historical detail, authentic and evocative. Melville's spirit informs every page of her tour de force. Una Spenser's marriage to Captain Ahab is certainly a crucial element in the narrative of Ahab's Wife, but the story covers vastly more territory. After a spellbinding opening scene, the tale flashes back to Una's childhood in Kentucky; her idyllic adolescence with her aunt and uncle's family at a lighthouse near New Bedford; her adventures disguised as a cabin boy on a whaling ship; her first marriage to a fellow survivor who descends into violent madness; courtship and marriage to Ahab; life as mother and a rich captain's wife in Nantucket; involvement with Frederick Douglass; and a man who is in Nantucket researching his novel about his adventures on her ex-husband's ship.
Ahab's Wife is a breathtaking, magnificent, and uplifting story of one woman's spiritual journey, informed by the spirit of the greatest American novel, but taking it beyond tragedy to redemptive triumph.
"A complex and sophisticated book, brilliantly written, beautifully illustrated." Booklist
"[A] genuine epic of America: an inspired homage to one of our greatest writers that brilliantly reinterprets, and in many ways rivals, his masterpiece." Kirkus Reviews
"An intense treat, powerfully written, Ahab's Wife is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in years." Louise Erdrich
"Beautifully written. Lyrical...alluring and wise." Los Angeles Times
A gorgeously written, gritty, sensual novel that captures a new Joan of Arc - the achingly young peasant woman long hidden behind the layers of history and legend
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 master storyteller and in the company of a fascinating woman hero. Inspired by a brief passage in Moby-Dick, Sena Jeter Naslund has created an enthralling and compellingly readable saga, spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life. At once a family drama, a romantic adventure, and a portrait of a real and loving marriage, Ahab's Wife gives new perspective on the American experience.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
Behind the girl rides her army of ten thousand warriors, all of them united by the same strange and feverish joy as they crash across the winter fields, through the white land and toward the shadowed stillness of the pines. She is seventeen, a peasant, unschooled, simple as a thumb. But on this morning, she is simply Gods arrow, shot across the winterland, brilliant and savage and divine. Unstoppable.
It is the fifteenth century, and the tumultuous Hundred Years War rages on. France is under siege, English soldiers tear through the countryside destroying all who cross their paths, and Charles VII, the uncrowned king, has neither the strength nor the will to rally his army. And in the quiet of her parents garden in Domrémy, a peasant girl sees a spangle of light and hears a powerful voice speak her name. Jehanne.
The story of Jehanne dArc, the visionary and saint who believed she had been chosen by God, who led an army and saved her country, has captivated our imaginations for centuries. But the story of Jehanne—the girl—whose sister was murdered by the English, who sought an escape from a violent father and a forced marriage, who taught herself to ride and to fight, and who somehow found the courage and tenacity to persuade first one, then two, then thousands to follow her, is at once thrilling, unexpected, and heartbreaking. Rich with unspoken love and battlefield valor, The Maid is a novel about the power and uncertainty of faith, and the exhilarating and devastating consequences of fame.
About the Author
Sena Jeter Naslund is Writer in Residence at the University of Louisville, program director of the Spalding University brief-residency MFA in Writing, and current Kentucky Poet Laureate. Recipient of the Harper Lee Award and the Southeastern Library Association Fiction Award, she is editor of The Louisville Review and the Fleur-de-Lis Press. She is the author of the novels Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Sherlock in Love and a collection of stories, The Disobedience of Water. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
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