The Voyage of the Narwhal

The Voyage of the Narwhal

Book - 1998
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Baker & Taylor
The author combines fact and fiction to follow Erasmus Darwin Wells, the nineteenth-century naturalist, on his reckless pursuit of an open polar sea

Norton Pub
A major novel by the author of Ship Fever, winner of the 1996 National Book Award for Fiction. Part adventure narrative, part love story, this unforgettable novel captures a crucial moment in the history of exploration, the mid-nineteenth-century romance with the mystery of the Arctic. Combining fact and fiction, Andrea Barrett focuses on Erasmus Darwin Wells, a scholar-naturalist accompanying the expedition of the Narwhal. Through his eyes we meet the various crew members and the expedition's blustery commander, obsessed with the search for an open polar sea. And through his eyes we experience the wild, disturbing beauties of that last unexplored region. In counterpoint to his views are those of the Esquimaux, witness to the expedition's exploits, and of the women left behind in Philadelphia, who can only imagine what lies beyond the north wind. Together, those who travel and those who stay weave a web of myth and history. In the real nineteenth-century expeditions, explorers' documents always cast the writer as hero. But what really happened up there, in the long winter darkness, entrapped in ice? On the Narwhal, everyone is frightened, nothing is certain, and heroes emerge in unexpected guises. Barrett's explorers discover-as all explorers do-not what was always there and never needed discovering, but the state of their own souls.

Baker
& Taylor

The author of Ship Fever, winner of the 1996 National Book Award for Fiction, combines fact and fiction to follow Erasmus Darwin Wells, the nineteenth-century naturalist, on his reckless pursuit of an open polar sea. 75,000 first printing. Tour.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, [1998]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©1998
ISBN: 9780393046328
039304632X
Branch Call Number: FIC Ba 1998
Characteristics: 399 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm

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htliang
Feb 11, 2016

This is a powerful historical fiction novel. It tells the story of the Narwhal's search for the fate of Franklin's expedition. Most of the story is told through the eyes of Erasmus, the ship's naturalist. The leader of the expedition, Zeke, is filled with ambition to make a name for himself. He disregards the safety and advice of his crew as he plots to overwinter in the arctic. By the end of the story, I came to fiercely hate this man.

Andrea Barrett does an amazing job of depicting the arctic in all its beauty and power. She also takes the reader into the minds of the crew - their hopes and fears. The terrible suffering the men endured during their winter in Smith South is explored in depth - from scurvy to frostbite to starvation (even having to eat the grubs found in old caribou skins).

I had a difficult time putting this book down. I highly recommend it.

multcolib_dianaa Mar 04, 2014

I couldn't put down this novel about the men on a voyage to the Arctic who got stranded in the ice and some of the women left behind in Philadelphia, waiting for them. The Arctic journey is narrated by the ship's naturalist, and Andrea Barrett excels at writing about the natural world.

d
dbeer
Dec 19, 2012

A fascinating story of travel in the arctic around 1855. Loved the characters and found it hard to put down.

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