Sena Jeter Naslund has taken a few sparsely written lines from Herman Melville's Moby Dick and turns them into the leviathan of a book that is Ahab's Wife. In Melville's great American Renaissance, Captain Ahab references his young wife Una sporadically and with barely enough information to fill a long paragraph. Naslund has taken those short musings and written about Una in full.
Author Sena Jeter Naslund found herself irked when she realized how many great classics lacked strong female characters and sought to write a novel that celebrated just that. It seems that from the very start, Una most be burdened with a weary load. Naslund's ambition to encompass the life of an unconventional woman in an unconventional life saddles her with many woes and misadventures. Una proves herself to be strong and endures heartache and loss yet she finds joy at the center of it all. The cast of characters is vast and ever evolving. It's a wonder Una can keep up with them because as a reader I struggled to. The mishmash of famous literary figures, artists, renowned abolitionists, scientists, mad men, dwarves, slaves, suffragists and sea captains are enough to drown the plot but a larger than life character such as Una needs such a retinue.
Ahab's Wife reads like the ocean; calm, blustery, and a little stormy at times. It is a ponderous tome at over 600 pages, but it is a lovely read. In trying to embrace the style of Melville's Moby Dick, Naslund comes off as a little wordy. Don't let that dissuade you from reading because it truly makes the two novels more relatable. To rush through it is to miss out on the all important notion that it is the journey and the not the destination that brings the most joy. In short, take to reading Ahab's Wife as one would take an ocean journey; with plenty of provisions and lots of time.
- Additional Information
ISBN 0060838744 EAN 9780060838744 Publisher William Morrow & Company Publish Date Aug 2, 2005 Copyright Date Aug 2, 2005 Binding Paperback