The only book I ever used Cliff Notes for was Herman Melvilles Moby Dick. Who wanted to read about a madman obsessed with killing a great white whale? Sena Jeter Naslund presents a version of the classic from a womans point of view. From one line in Moby Dick, she fashioned AHABS WIFE, an epic novel as exciting as any Ive had the pleasure to read.

As a child, Una is sent to live in a lighthouse far from Kentucky and her fanatical father. Dressed as a boy, she runs off to sea seeking adventure and romance. She finds both, as well as hardships and sacrifice. But her love for the sea and one man makes it all worthwhile. Her Ahab is a loving husband and father, until his obsessive search for the white whale drives him to madness and death. Una picks up the pieces of her life and in the end, finds new love.

Written in the style of the classic 19th-century novel, specifically Moby Dick, AHABS WIFE stands on its own as a highly readable modern-day chronicle. Here is a book by, for and about a remarkable woman. It is a tale of grand proportions, peopled with great characters and real historical personages such as Frederick Douglas, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, who interact with Una and who will intrigue readers to find out more about them and their intellectual movements. AHABS WIFE is a rare treat, highly entertaining, feminist, masterful and a treasure trove for any reader. (Available now, 500 pp., $25.00)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin