The Whale

The Whale

A Love Story

Book - 2016
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"A rich and captivating novel set amid the witty, high-spirited literary society of 1850s New England, offering a new window on Herman Melville's emotionally charged relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne and how it transformed his masterpiece, Moby-Dick In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming to an end--his last three novels have been commercial failures and the critics have turned against him. In despair, Melville takes his family for a vacation to his cousin's farm in the Berkshires, where he meets Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic--and his life turns upside down. The Whale chronicles the fervent love affair that grows out of that serendipitous afternoon. Already in debt, Melville recklessly borrows money to purchase a local farm in order to remain near Hawthorne, his newfound muse. The two develop a deep connection marked by tensions and estrangements, and feelings both shared and suppressed. Melville dedicated Moby-Dick to Hawthorne, and Mark Beauregard's novel fills in the story behind that dedication with historical accuracy and exquisite emotional precision, reflecting his nuanced reading of the real letters and journals of Melville, Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and others. An exuberant tale of longing and passion, The Whale captures not only a transformative relationship--long the subject of speculation--between two of our most enduring authors, but also their exhilarating moment in history, when a community of high-spirited and ambitious writers was creating truly American literature for the first time"-- Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780399562334
0399562338
Characteristics: 281 pages ; 22 cm
Call Number: BEAUREGARD, M

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EricaReynolds
Aug 02, 2016

This work of historical fiction that intersplices Melville's actual letters to Hawthorne is not for the faint of heart--so intense and ultimately doomed, but it is not a book without all hope nor without moments of intense joy. But what can we expect from a book that tries to recapture the mind and context in which this great book was forged? An incredibly well-written book. Recommended, but I suggest having some dark chocolate available, or perhaps try reading it on a sunny day so it doesn't throw you into despair.

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