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... read more
Amazon.com: "Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last," says Una Spenser, the eponymous narrator, in the first sentence of this deliciously old-fashioned bildungsroman, adventure story and romance. Naslund's inspiration, based on one reference in Moby-Dick, may not satisfy... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Amazon.com: "Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last," says Una Spenser, the eponymous narrator, in the first sentence of this deliciously old-fashioned bildungsroman, adventure story and romance. Naslund's inspiration, based on one reference in Moby-Dick, may not satisfy aficonados of Melville's dense, richly symbolic masterpiece, but it should please most other readers with its suspenseful, affecting, historically accurate and seductive narrative. At age 12, Una escapes her religiously obsessed father in rural Kentucky to live with relatives in a lighthouse off New Bedford, Mass. When she is 16Adisguised as a boyAshe runs off to sea aboard a whaler, which sinks after being rammed by its quarry. Una and two young men who love her are the only survivors of a group set adrift in an open boat, but the dark secret of their cannibalism will leave its mark. Rescued, Una is wed to one of the young men by the captain of the Pequod, handsome, commanding Ahab, who has not as yet met the white whale that will be his destiny. These eventsArecounted in stately prose nicely dotted with literary allusionsAtake the reader only through the first quarter of the book. Una's later marriage to AhabAa passionate and intellectually satisfying relationshipAthe loss of her mother and her newborn son in one night, and her life as a rich woman in Nantucket are further developments in a plot teeming with arresting events and provocative ideas. Una is an enchanting protagonist: intellectually curious, sensitive, imaginative and kind. But Naslund also endows her with restlessness, rash impetuosity and a refreshing skepticism about traditional religion, qualities that humanize what verges on an idealized personality, and that motivate Una's search for spiritual sustenance. Unitarianism and Universalism are two of the religions she investigates; other "dark issues of our time" include slavery, and the position of women. Social and cultural details texture the lengthy, episodic, discursive narrative. Una's search for identity brings her friendship with such real life figures as writer Margaret Fuller and astronomer Maria Mitchell, and with such colorful fictional characters as an escaped slave and a dwarf bounty hunter. Even Halley's Comet makes an appearance. Provocatively, Naslund (The Disobedience of Water) suggests a new source of Ahab's demented rage to kill the whale who has "unmasted" him. Some elements of the novel jar, especially Naslund's tendency to pay rhapsodic tributes to Una's questing spirit; a surfeit of noble, large-souled and amazingly generous characters; and the symmetrical neatness of the plot. In the last third of the book, readers may become weary of Una's spiritual reflections and the minutiae of her daily routine. But these are small faults in a splendid novel that amply fulfills its ambitious purpose offering a sweeping, yet intimate picture of a remarkable woman who both typifies and transcends her times. Illustrations by Christopher Wormell. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; 20-city author tour; BOMC main selection; Simon & Schuster audio.Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“The sound of wood gliding through water came to my ears - I was leaving Kentucky - and I thought of the Ancient Mariner's message: "He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small."”Una
“-- Each day and forever, by the ticking of the mantel clock and by the dark wheeling of the cosmos, we have given time a a home.”Una
Let me know that into the knot of self comes the thread called time, and that what I am, disgraced or blessed, came from what I was, goes to what I yet may be.Highlighted by 30 Kindle customers
“That’s the way it is in life. You let go of what is beautiful and unique. You pursue something new and don’t even know that the wind of your own running is a thief.”Highlighted by 29 Kindle customers
Where we choose to be, where we choose to be—we have that power to determine our lives. We cannot reel time backward or forward, but we can take ourselves to the place that defines our being.Highlighted by 27 Kindle customers
Not to be loved but to love lightened my load of grief and gave value and direction to my life.Highlighted by 27 Kindle customers
(Is it not the case that many a life journey starts out in the opposite direction to its destiny?)Highlighted by 22 Kindle customers
Prayer is the shelter from despair; good works for others is the obligation of joy at home. Meditate only on the glory of God, his magnificence, his kindness in the most ultimate sense, his ever-flowing forgiveness, his warm love. Admit your lowliness before his plan. Give up the illusion that you can order either your own life or Kit’s turmoil. Trust that Kit can find his way, according to the plan of God. Look you only to your own way, which is in God.Highlighted by 21 Kindle customers
“Beware the treachery of words, Mrs. Sparrow. They mean one thing to one person and the opposite to another. They are like all conventional, land-born habits. Words seem to be well-woven baskets ready to hold your meaning, but they betray you with rotted corners and splintered stays.”Highlighted by 21 Kindle customers
“He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small.”Highlighted by 19 Kindle customers
Is there always, under the glory of white wings and graceful speed, the scaffolding of a cross? This is not a Christian question but one applicable to India and China and Africa. If you meet a woman of whatever complexion who sails her life with strength and grace and assurance, talk to her! And what you will find is that there has been a suffering, that at some time she has left herself for hanging dead.Highlighted by 18 Kindle customers
Each day and forever, by the ticking of the mantel clock and by the dark wheeling of the cosmos, we have given time a home.Highlighted by 13 Kindle customers
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