A terrific tale of high endeavour and polar peril in the frozen north, and of the greater dangers that lie in wait in the seeming tranquillity of Civilization. * Intelligent, accessible literary fiction of the highest order. Superbly dramatic, the novel's themes are entirely embodied in its action and its characters (no speeches, no authorial ...
A terrific tale of high endeavour and polar peril in the frozen north, and of the greater dangers that lie in wait in the seeming tranquillity of Civilization. * Intelligent, accessible literary fiction of the highest order. Superbly dramatic, the novel's themes are entirely embodied in its action and its characters (no speeches, no authorial pronouncements). * Many an ambitious Victorian voyager was mesmerized northwards to the Pole and Zeke Voorhees, an irrepressible young man brought up on marine yarns, is one such. His own inherent magnetism gathers to him a ship's crew as varied and as intriguing as the polar flora and fauna two of their number are so keen to observe as natural historians. Voorhees sets his ship's course in the wake of Franklin's infamous expedition in search of an Open Polar Sea, but the Narwhal soon runs into difficulties all its own. Meanwhile back home in a New England humming with new ideas, all is frustration for the women the brave explorers leave behind...* A terrific tale of high endeavour and polar peril that inverts Peter Hoeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow. * A brilliant portrait of a society obsessed with mapping and classifying everything under the sun -- including the icy Arctic -- where the emancipation of women and the evolution of species are the next great revolutions just stirring into life; and where a man (but not a woman) becomes a man by being outward bound, an adventurer, an explorer; and where millions are eager to hear these heroes' tales of peril on the seas, on the ice.
New. No dust jacket as issued. Brand New and Unread condition. Advance Reader's Copy in softcover. Glued binding. 399 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Advance Reader's Copy in softcover. Will be well protected for safe shipping.
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The biggest reason I picked up this book, is the gorgeous cover. It's a great addition to the bookshelf, but after starting it, I don't feel too guilty that that is where I left it for so long. At almost four hundred pages, the ship's cabins are an awfully small space for the reader's mind. With some snipets going back and forth with the women waiting, and some interaction with the locals, most of the story takes place on the ship. It is a geniune feel, the restlessness, the dreams that don't live up, the deceit of leadership and crew mates. I would recommend this book for people interested in northern geography and ship lore, but not for the casual reader.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-06-15 Having honed her craft in four previous novels and the NBA-winning short-story collection Ship Fever (1996), Barrett delivers a stunning novel in which a meticulous grasp of historical and natural detail, insight into character and pulse-pounding action are integrated into a dramatic adventure story with deep moral resonance. In Philadelphia in 1855, naturalist Erasmus Darwin Wellsĉ40, unmarried and gripped by a despondent realization that his life is a failureĉsees a last chance to make his reputation as he prepares to accompany his future brother-in-law, Zechariah Voorhees, on a voyage to the arctic in search of Sir John Franklin's lost expedition. At 26, Zeke bristles with charisma, and a megalomaniacal sense of his own destiny. But loyal, na?ve Erasmus doesn't grasp the scope of Zeke's recklessness and blind ambition until Zeke has committed a series of colossal and fatal blunders, subjecting his men to unspeakable privation, hunger, cold and danger. When the crew finally refuses to accompany Zeke on a foolhardy mission and he goes off alone and does not return on schedule, Erasmus is placed in an exquisite dilemma: whether to force the men to gamble on Zeke's unlikely survival as the ice closes in for a second winter, orĉas he knows he must doĉabandon the ship and begin a harrowing trek over land and water in hope of rescue. Erasmus's eventual return home, where he is scorned by journalists, who accuse him of cowardice, and by his sister, Lavinia, who is bereft of her hopes of marriage, is underscored by further ironies so potent that readers will finish the last third of the book in a fever of anticipation and dread. As Barrett describes the provisioning of the Narwhal, the flora and fauna of the arctic, the turbulent seas and breathtaking scenery, the plot seems slow to develop. But her careful depiction of all the charactersĉa humane ship's doctor; a cook who survived the Irish famine; and, back in Philadelphia, spirited Alexandra Copeland, whose presence in the Wells household as companion to Lavinia eventually leads to an affecting love storyĉdeepens the narrative texture. Meanwhile, the extremes of both human behavior and natureĉlooming icebergs, fatal accidents, episodes of heroism, grisly discoveries of lost ships and dead men, the inexorable tyranny of winter darknessĉare described with an accuracy that make one forget that this is not a memoir but a work of the imagination. The denouement, when it arrives, is a triumph: a confluence of justice, retribution, spiritual faith, metamorphosis and love. Maps and illustrations. Agent, Wendy Weil; editor, Carol Houk Smith. (Sept.)
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