Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Ahab's Wife

Sena Jeter Naslund

The author has taken a short reference from Herman Melville's Moby Dick which refers to Captain Ahab's young wife at home, 'not three voyages wedded', and has spun from this an epic tale of the adventures of one woman in a man's world. Reading the book gave me a sense of the vastness and the hostility of the sea. I lived through the triumphs and the tragedies of the story and felt a real kinship with Una, even when her actions and opinions didn't match mine.

Extract

The sea is silver as far as the eye can see. Soft silver, bending and bluish, sometimes brushed with mist above the swells. And in the distance to the far north, yes, a white expanse of iceberg. Here's its breath, all about me. I feel the little hairs in my nose trying to freeze for all the light of the sun. Light with scant heat up here. Time to pull out the red mittens.

Beneath my feet the ship moves more smoothly than any horse could canter. We slide south, and the sails below me are bellied out but unstraining. Ah, to be a sail! To be a pair of wings! I would name this ship not Pequod but Pegasus of the strong white wings.

Parallels
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Mistress of Lilliput by Alison Fell

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