Synopses & Reviews
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's moving tale "is very much Naslund's own and can be enjoyed independently of its source." (Newsday)
The daughter of a tyrannical father, Una leaves the violent Kentucky frontier for the peace of a New England lighthouse island, where she simultaneously falls in love with two young men. Disguised as a boy, she earns a berth on a whaling ship where she encounters the power of nature, death, and madness, and gets her first glimpse of Captain Ahab. As Naslund portrays Una's love for the tragically driven Ahab, she magnificently renders a real, living marriage and offers a new perspective on the American experience. Immediately immersed in this world, the reader experiences a brilliantly written, vibrant, uplifting novel — a bright book of life.
Ahab's Wife was a main selection of the Book of the Month Club, chosen by Time magazine as one of the top five novels of 1999, selected by Book Sense as one of the top five books of the year, chosen by the New York Times as a Notable Book of 1999, and chosen as a Best Book by Publishers Weekly.
Ahab's Wife is being reprinted in Australia and England, translated into German, Hebrew, Spanish and Portuguese.
"Ahab's Wife is a worthy female companion to Moby-Dick and a tour de force in its own right." Gail Godwin, author of Evensong
"Based on 19th century sources and peopled with a rich array of fictional, mythic and historical characters, this ambitious novel is a kind of technicolor dream quilt that turns Moby-Dick inside out and stitches it back together....Harrowing, poignant and comical by turns, Ahab's Wife is an audacious romp through mid-19th century New England history that is amply informed by both scholarship and imagination. A spanking good read." Laurie Robertson-Lorant
"Ahab's Wife joins a distinguished tradition of literary works inspired by Moby-Dick. Sena Jeter Naslund's homage to Melville is steeped in his work and at the same time explores a world that Melville left largely uncharted: the world of woman's experience in nineteenth-century America. She weaves a richly imagined tapestry of historical details, compelling characters, literary history, metaphysics, and a gripping plot. Ahab's Wife is a riveting novel." Elizabeth Renker
"Ahab's Wife is an epic tour de force, and deserves its rightful place next to Melville's classic. Ambitious, powerful, heartbreaking, and transcendent at once, Una Spenser's tale of a life fully lived gives us what we crave: a compelling story beautifully told. This is a great American novel." Brett Lott
"Line up the literary prizes. Rendered in language both lush and luminous, Ahab's Wife is sustenance for the mind and soul." Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much Is True
"Beautifully written. Lyrical...alluring and wise." Los Angeles Times
"This is truly a grand...adventure story whose heroine survives on her intellect and courage." Newsday
About the Author
Sena Jeter Naslund grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, where she attended public schools and received the B.A. from Birmingham-Southem College. She has also lived in Louisiana, West Virginia, and California. She received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the author of the national bestseller Ahab's Wife and the short-story collection The Disobedience of Water. Her short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and many other journals. For twelve years, she directed the Creative Writing Program at the University of Louisville, where she teaches and holds the title Distinguished Teaching Professor. Concurrently, she directs the low-residency M.F.A. in Writing Program at Spalding University, Louisville. She is coeditor of the literary magazine The Literary Review and the Fleur de Lis Press at Spalding University, and has taught at the University of Montana and Indiana University. A recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council, she lives in Louisville with her husband, John C. Morrison, an atomic physicist.