Zeke and Erasmus head a 19th Century Arctic expedition to chart new territory, catalog wildlife, and search for traces of a previous expedition whose disappearance is veiled in mystery. Those left at home anxiously await their return with a mixture of awe, fear and envy. Evocative descriptions of the harsh yet undeniable beauty of the Arctic and keenly empathetic portrayals of the characters’ quest for knowledge and struggle for survival make for epic adventure. Finely crafted and yet inspired, The Voyage of the Narwhal is a classic.
— Sara, Atlanta
"A luminous work of historical fiction that explores the far reaches of the Arctic and of men's souls." —Denver Post
Capturing a crucial moment in the history of exploration—the mid-nineteenth century romance with the Arctic—Andrea Barrett's compelling novel tells the story of a fateful expedition. Through the eyes of the ship's scholar-naturalist, Erasmus Darwin Wells, we encounter the Narwhal's crew, its commander, and the far-north culture of the Esquimaux. In counterpoint, we meet the women left behind in Philadelphia, explorers only in imagination. Together, those who travel and those who stay weave a web of myth and mystery, finally discovering what they had not sought, the secrets of their own hearts.
About the Author
Andrea Barrett is the author of The Air We Breathe, Servants of the Map (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever (winner of the National Book Award), and other books. She teaches at Williams College and lives in northwestern Massachusetts.
Breathes with a contemporary urgency, an exhilarating adventure novel…A genuine page turner that long lingers in the mind. — Philip Graham
Breathtaking…exquisitely written in every way…fully worthy of the massive, dangerous subject it undertakes.
[B]oth cunningly cerebral and hair-raisingly visceral…This is an astonishingly good book by a writer we must declare as major.
A wonderful book in the truest sense of the word—wonder-filled.
This novel takes off over the sea, straight out of history and into tragedy…We get to luxuriate in the promise of retribution and in finely calibrated, persuasive prose.
Stunning…Barrett shows the arrogance and delusion that drove the age of exploration better than any nonfiction book could.