Ahab’s Wife, My Favorite Book

My Favorite Book

Ahab’s Wife, or The Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund had just been published.  The year was 1999.  A good friend’s husband was someone of import at the University of Louisville and it was during a university function that my friend met Naslund. This, of course, prompted her to read the book, and shortly thereafter practically demanded that I read it so we could talk about it.  And I have been talking about it ever since.

So many details of this book have been committed to a permanent place in my mind and heart, not the least of which is the opening sentence:  “Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last.” It takes a small reference to Captain Ahab’s wife and draws a story as deep and wide and full of adventure as Moby Dick. I’ve read both books.  I liked this one far better.

When I first visited a friend in Florida, before we moved here, she and I were in the car when a discussion about our favorite books came up.  I challenged her to read the first five pages of Ahab’s Wife, and if she could put it down without finishing the chapter, I would pay for lunch.  Otherwise, she would pay.  We shook hands.   She drove to the nearest bookstore, bought the book, and I got in the driver’s seat heading to a restaurant while she read.  And read.  And I had to wait in the parking lot while she finished the chapter.  Yes, she paid for lunch.  In fact, I had to insist she not bring the book inside; she wanted to read through lunch.  True story.

Naslund’s writing is exemplary, and this is one of the easiest reads ever.  I wished for a life as exciting, even with the trials and tribulations the heroine Una endured.  I wanted to live her life.  I wanted to be Una, except for the obvious; I wanted her spirit.  Indeed, I wanted to be Naslund.  I wanted, and still do, to be able to write like that.

To this day I see the ocean, the ships sailing on it, and the lighthouses lining its shores differently now.  It is my favorite book.  For me, it is the book to which all others are compared. I’ve read it twice, and now realize I need to read it again.  You should too. This is my strongest possible recommendation.

To view a list of my recommended books, click the READ ME icon on the right sidebar.

About Patsye

I am an older woman and artist. I love to craft. I love to sew and knit and crochet and needlepoint. I love to paint and draw and make art with my hands. Being creative is what gets me up in the morning. Art is my tea, my fresh air, my good book, and my cats all rolled into one. I have much to share and hope you'll visit often.
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9 Responses to Ahab’s Wife, My Favorite Book

  1. Anonymous says:

    You have certainly did a great review of this book and I do intend to get it and read it also. I have just finished a great book that I cannot stop thinking about it, STILL ALICE it was so good.

    • maureenc says:

      I also have read “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova. It’s theme is early onset Alzheimers…wonderfully well written and well researched, as is Lisa’s second book
      “Left Behind”. Most of my friends and family have borrowed both my copies.
      I have no hesitation in suggesting that you read both.

      • Alright then. I’ll get Still Alice as well. I’ve hesitated to read these kinds of books because they scare the dickens out of me. But I’ll try both, once I finish the three books I’m reading now (including Ahab’s Wife for the third time, and frankly it gets better every time I read it.) Thanks Maureen and Anonymous. Thank you both for commenting. Patsye

        • maureenc says:

          You should have warned me that Ahab’s Wife has 600plus pages!!
          I obtained my copy from the Library this afternoon. The only trouble is that I’m wading through THE POISONWOOD BIBLE (Barbara Kingsolver) for my Book club meeting next Monday.
          Despite the publisher’s ecstatic blurb, I am finding it very hard going, and wonder HOW I will finish reading it, let alone prepare a critique. I wonder if any of your blog followers have read it, and what they thought of it.
          Note to self: I really must emulate “An Older Woman” and add “Best reads” to my blog!!

          • An Older Woman says:

            I read it, and I LOVED it. It was years and years ago, but a couple of scenes come to mind. One is when the ants took over the village and denuded it completely. How frightening. I also remember something about cake mixes, how the mom filled their suitcases with cake mixes and make the kids wear their clothes on the plane. Am I dreaming that? I recall it being a fantastic book that I couldn’t put down. I love those weird adventure stories. I think Kingsolver is a wonderful writer, and I do remember loving that book. If I could talk about it with someone, I’d remember more.

            Don’t rush through Ahab’s Wife. The prose is worth going slow as she writes in an almost poetic way. Some sentences are so beautiful I stop and read them twice just to enjoy the moment. But it is the story that you will savor. I’ve been rereading it since I wrote the blog, and I’m only on page 40. Think of this book as a fine wine, not to be gulped. Patsye

            • maureenc says:

              Thank you for once again making time to reply!
              You are correct!
              re: the children wearing many layers of clothing,plus loading packets of cake mixes into the pockets of the clothes they were wearing( because of weight limitations for their luggage from US to the Congo)
              As well as the ants devastating the village.
              It is interesting how different people react to the same stimulus……..
              my reaction to Poisonwood seems to be similar to yours of Still Alice!
              For me, POISONWOOD is so bleak and negative, whilst
              STILL ALICE illustrates a mind trying to come to grips with inexplicable problems.

              POISONWOOD brings back dark memories of the 50s with the horrors that happened in the Belgian Congo…..I am worried about what heart of darkness is still to be revealed..

              STILL ALICE and “LEFT BEHIND held no terrors for me as I have had to deal with Alzheimer’s in several very close family members—-and I had never come across early onset Alzheimer’s until I read the book.

              As for LEFT BEHIND, I had nursed patients with similar trauma and could “see” where the principal character was “coming from”, and what they were hoping to achieve to improve their lot.

              You have given me the stimulus to approach POISONWOOD BIBLE from a different perspective.
              , I will complete that, before I savour AHAB’S WIFE..

              Goodnight, from Brisbane, Australia

  2. Sounds like something I’d be interested in reading. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. maureenc says:

    I have just been online and reserved my copy through my local library.
    You are causing me to consider adding “favourite reads” to my blog.
    The Lord knows I read enough to be able to comment on some.

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