Wild and Distant Seas: A Novel (Hardcover)
A gorgeous debut, laced through with magic, following four generations of women as they seek to chart their own futures.
Evangeline Hussey has made a home for herself on Nantucket, though she knows she is still an outsider to the island’s small, close-knit community, one that by 1849 has started to feel the decline of a once-thriving whaling industry. Her husband, Hosea, and the life they built together, was once all she needed—but now Hosea is gone, lost at sea. Evangeline is only able to hold on to his inn, and her place on the island, by employing a curious gift to glimpse and re-form the recent memories of those who would cast her out.
One night, an idealistic sailor appears on her doorstep asking her to call him Ishmael. He seeks only a warm bed and a bowl of chowder, and yet suddenly, unsettlingly, her careful illusion begins to fracture. He soon sails away with Ahab to hunt an infamous white whale, and Evangeline is left to forge a new life from the pieces that remain.
Her choices ripple through generations, across continents, and into the depths of the sea, in a narrative that follows Evangeline and her descendants from mid-nineteenth century Nantucket to Boston, Brazil, Florence, and Idaho. Moving, beautifully written, and elegantly conceived, Wild and Distant Seas takes Moby-Dick as its starting point, but Tara Karr Roberts brings four remarkable women to life in a spellbinding epic all her own.
— Heller McAlpin - Christian Science Monitor
In her inventive debut, Roberts gives voice (and a little bit of magic) to those who are left behind: the women caught in the riptide of male ambition.... With language richer than the matriarch’s famed chowder and nautical descriptions so vivid you can taste the salt spray, Roberts offers a new and refreshingly feminine perspective on one of American literature’s most masculine classics.
— Charley Burlock - Oprah Daily
Reading this book is like exploring history with a whole new perspective.... With a terse yet poetic style that calls to mind the prose of Hawthorne and Melville, Roberts brings this story to life with a quiet energy and yearning that is palpable.... A beautiful book.
— Jane Siciliano - Bookreporter
Marvelous.... Grounded in the small passionate details of the great Melville novel, yet seeking meaning in a very different way.... this luscious novel may open a longing to re-explore the tale of the whale and the men who pursued it.
— Beth Kanell - Historical Novel Society
Tara Karr Roberts breathes new life into a classic tale with a radiant cast of women at the helm. Wholly absorbing and beautifully written, Wild and Distant Seas is sure to someday be a classic in its own right.
— Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance and The Wilderwomen
A lyrical and beautiful work of historical fiction.… Charming and atmospheric, Wild and Distant Seas celebrates the complexities of womanhood through the ages and poses questions about memory, family identity, one’s legacy, and the nature and power of free will. What stories do we inherit and how much can we alter the narrative of our lives and of those of our loved ones? And when is it time to let go? At its heart, this is a story of loss, redemption, tenacity, and hope.
— Julie Gerstenblatt, author of Daughters of Nantucket
Stunning.... Roberts writes with confidence and dynamic range, mixing earthy details of dead fish and whale oil with sublime descriptions of the women’s psychic abilities.... This is beautiful.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
Sweeping.... The magic is subtle, woven seamlessly into the narrative, so it does not feel out of place in this otherwise traditional work of historical fiction. Each woman’s story builds to a beautiful conclusion, and the themes of love, motherhood, and the quest to find one’s purpose in life resonate throughout.
— Patricia Smith, Booklist, starred review