Sunday, January 15, 2012

BW3: Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund






Chapter one
"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last. Yet, looking up—into the clouds—I conjure him there: his gray-white hair; his gathered brow; and the zaggy mark; I saw it when lying with him by candlelight and, also, taking our bliss on the sunny moor among curly-cup gumweed and lamb's ear. I see a zaggy shadow in the rifting clouds. That mark started like lightning at Ahab's temple and ran not all the way to his heel (as some thought) but ended at Ahab's heart. 

That pull of cloud—tapered and blunt at one end and frayed at the other—seems the cottony representation of his ivory leg. But I will not see him all dismembered and scattered in heaven's blue—that would be no kind, reconstructive vision; no, intact, lofty and sailing, though his shape is changeable. Yesterday, when I tilted my face to the sky, I imaged not the full figure but only his cloudy head, a portrait, glancing back at me over his shoulder.

What weather is in Ahab's face?"

Does it sounds intriguing! I started reading it Saturday afternoon and it quickly captured me.  There are a few ladies on the WTM forum who are joining me in reading the story.  Play along with us and Read Ahab's Wife starting today. 

Synopsis:   "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."

There are 167 chapters averaging 4 pages each for a total of 667 pages. You can read at your own pace and when we come up for air on Saturday January 21, we'll see where we all stand and take it from there.  Or read 48 pages a day which will have you finishing in two weeks.

I found a list of interesting discussion questions on Harper Collin's site. There are some spoilers so don't look at the questions if you think it will ruin your reading experience. The questions will give you things to think about as you read or after you read it.  I'll post the questions in the Miscellaneous and Readalongs link above on the 29th and you can discuss the book and answer them in the comments or on your blog.

Available in paperback or ebook format at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

For more information about Sena Jeter Naslund and her other novels, go here.


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31 comments:

  1. I read "Lord John and the Private Matter". If you are familiar with the Outlander series, you'll know who Lord John is. If you don't know the series or Diana Gabaldon, it is still a good historical/ mystery fiction.

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    1. I haven't read any of the Lord John books yet. Will eventually get there. :)

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  2. I just finished my first book choice "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. Very interesting book - not just a medical story but one about a family and how their lives were affected. I cried a few times just imagining how it would feel to discover some of these things about your own family members. I recommend this book!

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    1. I keep hearing good things about this book. Will have to add it to wishlist

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  3. Finished books #1 and #2 this week. The first was "The Teenage Liberation Handbook How to Quit School & Get a Real Life & Education" by Grace Llewellyn. Great educational information - but I certainly wouldn't give it to my teenager to read as it is not very conservative. Book #2 was "Eternal on the Water" by Joseph Monninger. Mary and Cobb meet on the Allagash River and fall in love but Mary has a life threatening illness. A beautiful story about how they choose to move forward depsite their limited time together and the decision they make on how Mary spends her final days.

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    1. Haven't heard of Joseph Monniger. Will have to check him out.

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  4. Hello! I'm participating for the first time and although I'm a book lover and used to read lots (at least 52 a year!), a full time job outside the home and two small kids have really cut back on my reading time! So I am signing up only for the 12 in 12 months challenge. A "chunky" a month is more my speed these days than a book a week. Looking forward to seeing what everyone's reading.

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    1. Welcome to the challenge. Glad you decided to dive in. Good luck with your chunky books and look forward to hearing about them.

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  5. I hadn't thought about googling discussion questions....

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    1. There are also discussion questions at the end of the book. At least with the ebook I read.

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  6. finished Carrots by Colleen Helme

    interesting and will add the next in the series to my wishlist

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  7. Really enjoyed "The Glass Castle" this past week. I have a bag of books borrowed from a friend so trying some new (to me) authors.
    Jane

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    1. Is that the memoir by Jeannette Castle? Haven't read too many memoir. Looks like may be interesting.

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  8. I read the first of 12 Shakespeare plays I hope to finish this year, but I didn't blog about it. I'm on my sixth book of the year ... Bonhoeffer. Hopefully I'll finish it this week. It is not a slog, but it definitely requires much attention.

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    1. Great! You may just inspire me yet to dig out our huge book of plays and start reading Shakespeare. :) Bonhoeffer certainly sounds intersting.

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  9. I did read Moby Dick many years ago and remember both those lines. I also remember very vividly when the whale erupted from the water, a white glow with harpoons trailing and blood streaming. Such good imagery.

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    1. Looking forward to reading it. Ahab's wife was excellent.

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  10. I read 'The Body Project' and it was an excellent book! Would love to join in on Ahab's Wife but our library doesn't have it! :/

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    1. There will be plenty of time this year to read and when you do, we'll all be happy to talk about it with you. :)

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  11. I didn't know the WTM had a book club! Thanks for letting me know.

    I'm reading Kon Tiki aloud to the kids. I never knew it was a funny book until now.

    Annie Kate

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    1. Kon Tiki fits in well with our ahab and moby dick theme. :)

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  12. Book three finished..."The Little World of Don Camillo" by Giovanni Guareschi.A light read but truly enjoyable all the same.

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  13. Excited to see how everyone likes Ahab's Wife. I have one or two others I'm in the middle of that I really should finish first, then I'll try to dive in to that one. I need to tie my hands when I go to the library with the kids though!

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    1. I liked it. Got a bit tedious in the middle, then picked up again. I'll probably buy the hard copy at some point and read it again. It's one of those books you want to explore because there is so much to it.

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  14. Thanks for doing this challenge. I'm currently reading A Discovery of Witches.

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    1. My pleasure. Discovery of Witches is on my wishlist. :)

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  15. Just finished book 3, Catherine the Great by Robert Massie. Quite a large book, but very interesting. If you're planning on reading it, I don't recommend the ebook version

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    1. Something else to add to my wishlist. :)

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  16. I'm trying to get my reads linked to the proper week. Week 3 read = 3. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett (1/19/12) [not the Dan Simmons book]

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