Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Roberts

Wild and Distant Seas

A Novel

by Tara Karr Roberts

Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Karr Roberts X
Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Karr Roberts
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jan 2024, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Chapter 1

It took me some time to appreciate the smell of dead fish. When I arrived on Nantucket I was nineteen, claiming myself to be the niece of a businessman who was due to visit the island in search of a ship to sponsor. I took a room at the Try Pots inn, and there I met its proprietor, Hosea Hussey. Over a bowl of thin and gritty clam chowder, I told him I could make better. Perhaps this was overconfident, as I had never so much as touched a sea creature, but he said he would be pleased to see me try. When I told him the uncle and the ship were lies, Hosea laughed. We were married six days later on the deck of the whaler Deborah by a half-drunk minister who had stumbled over from the mainland some days earlier. Hosea wore an ill-fitting suit left to him, alongside the inn, by his late father; I, my yellow gown. As its skirts brushed the polished planks, they released the stench of whale oil, and I wondered if I should ever again smell the sea air without the smell of its ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

A story of four generations of strong women, each having a unique gift of clairvoyance, and their worldwide search for the elusive Ishmael, whose absence affected each life in a different way (Beth W). The story made me want to keep turning the pages. I had to finish the book. There was no guessing the end and I like that in a story (Veronica E). Fortunately, you do not need to be a lit major or even read Moby-Dick to understand and appreciate Roberts' debut novel. The multi-generational story of Evangeline and her heirs is compelling and intriguing as they each navigate their life paths and mother-daughter relationships (Melissa H)...continued

Full Review Members Only (609 words)

(Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Media Reviews

Charley Burlock, Oprah Daily
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.

Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor
Beautifully conceived.... An inventive, atmospheric, female-centric story.... Ingeniously constructed.... Like whales, Roberts' novel traverses great distances, following its four generations of resolute women as they strive to take the helm of their lives.... [A] stirring epic.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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.

Patricia Smith, Booklist (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.

Kirkus Reviews
Without the references to Ishmael, Captain Ahab, et al., Roberts would have had a finely detailed piece of historical fiction on her hands, well researched and rich. She is a natural storyteller and her prose is engaging. But Melville is doing her no favors here.

Author Blurb Julie Gerstenblatt, author of Daughters of Nantucket
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.

Author Blurb Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance and The Wilderwomen
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.

Reader Reviews

Sue P. (Albuquerque, NM)

Wild and Distant Seas
What a concept! Take a literary classic, add some incredible women, and then, as a final flourish, stir in a dollop of magic. This book may very well become a classic in its own right. I could never plow through MOBY DICK, but I just may give it ...   Read More
Sharon M. (OR)

Wild and Distant Seas by Tara Karr Roberts
Few things are as satisfying as a good story skillfully written. Wild and Distant Seas is the kind of book you find yourself pondering about between readings. Spanning 56 years, two continents and four generations of Hussey women, the author never ...   Read More
NM

Spellbinding journey
Tara Karr Roberts' debut novel Wild and Distant Seas tells the story of four generations of mothers and daughters whose lives take them around the globe and whose remarkable memories take them even further. Drawing in elements of Herman Melville's ...   Read More
Kathleen L. (Fairfield, PA)

Whales, women, migration, and memory
The beginning of this book seemed slow, but I'm so glad I continued reading. This story of four generations of women proved to be compelling, moving, and beautifully written. Across the generations, the women had unusual gifts related to memory, and ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

A Moby-Dick Reading List

Covers of books related to Moby-Dick: Dayswork, Afterparties and And the Ocean Was Our Sky Whether you love Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, hate it or have never read it, you may find yourself unable to escape it. Even for a classic, it shows surprising reach, having inspired and influenced numerous authors, artists and scholars, historical and contemporary. Published in 1851, it continues to be deconstructed, reconstructed, analyzed, interpreted, adapted and added to, with one example of a literary spin-off being Tara Karr Roberts' debut Wild and Distant Seas, which follows four generations of women linked to the book's main character Ishmael. Below are just a few of the many other pieces of writing, both short and long, fiction and non-fiction, that interact with or cast their gaze on Melville's iconic novel.

One work that ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Wild and Distant Seas, try these:

  • Julia jacket

    Julia

    by Sandra Newman

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    An imaginative, feminist, and brilliantly relevant-to-today retelling of Orwell's 1984, from the point of view of Winston Smith's lover, Julia, by critically acclaimed novelist Sandra Newman.

  • Dayswork jacket

    Dayswork

    by Chris Bachelder, Jennifer Habel

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    A startlingly original, incantatory novel about marriage, mortality, and making art.

We have 5 read-alikes for Wild and Distant Seas, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Who Said...

Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.