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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Naomi J. Williams Narrator: Christopher Lane Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The gripping story of a dramatic eighteenth-century voyage of discovery

In her wildly inventive debut novel, Naomi Williams reimagines the historical La Pérouse expedition, a voyage of exploration that left Brest in 1785 with two frigates, two hundred men, and overblown Enlightenment ideals and expectations, in a brave attempt to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France.

Deeply grounded in historical fact but refracted through a powerful imagination, Landfalls follows the exploits and heartbreaks not only of the men on the ships but also of the people affected by the voyage—natives and other Europeans the explorers encountered, loved ones left waiting at home, and those who survived and remembered the expedition later. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and is set in a different part of the world—ranging from London to Alaska, from remote South Pacific islands to Siberia, and eventually back to France. The result is a beautifully written and absorbing tale of the high seas, scientific exploration, human tragedy, and the world on the cusp of the modern era.

By turns elegiac, profound, and comic, Landfalls reinvents the maritime adventure novel for the twenty-first century.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It’s a tragic narrative, filled with calamities, yet never somber or dreary… Readers may be surprised to find dashes of comedy throughout, but Ms. Williams is adept at mining the humor in awkward encounters, revealing the divide between how certain characters perceive themselves and how others view them, and exposing the often duplicitous motives behind noble gestures.”

    New York Times

  • “In her thrilling debut novel…Ms. Williams brilliantly moves across continents and gives each landfall a distinct and evocative voice…[she] has a knack for using small details to flesh out her characters…Landfalls is intelligent and utterly human. Ms. Williams has written a seductive page-turner that, although we know the story ends tragically, draws the reader in and doesn’t let go.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Audacious…Immersive… A marvel of inventive storytelling.”


  • “Best taken in by the ocean, Landfalls draws inspiration from real-life mariners…A beautiful tale of adventure, anchored in tragedy.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “Williams’ debut novel Landfalls is a dazzling recreation of a real-life eighteenth century French expedition that touched down in Tenerife, Chile, Alaska, and other far-flung places before vanishing…With keen sensual flair and understated poignancy, especially as she limns the friendships of men at sea, Williams has delivered a bona fide masterpiece.”

    Seattle Times

  • “By focusing on the penumbra of this legendary voyage, a disastrous, eighteenth-century quest for geographic knowledge, Naomi Williams brilliantly illuminates the enduring story of L’Expedition de Laperousé. The novel is a deft and stunning evocation of human aspiration at the dawn of the Industrial Age.”

    Barry Lopez, National Book Award winner and author of Arctic Dreams

  • “The craftsmanship is so good, it’s hard to believe this is a first novel. That alone makes the book award worthy. On top of the outstanding technical execution, it tells its tale so well that it becomes interesting and emotionally gripping to readers with zero interest in eighteenth-century maritime history.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “Both [history and fiction] demand an engagement with humanity that must skate across time and space to achieve any sort of context, any degree of relevance or reach. The best kind of historical fiction, then, should involve intelligence, experimentation, boldness, and curiosity. These traits are all in evidence in Naomi J. Williams’s ambitious and meticulous debut…At its heart, Williams’ book is a brave pastiche of mostly true stories that overlap and jar, conveying the confusion of history more accurately than most fiction…Williams recalibrates the predicted narrative, turning the telescope or microscope (these intrepid savants use both) toward the unexpected corners of a scene.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “As a nautical novel, it’s fantastic; as a novel of cultural exchange and misunderstanding, it’s even better.”

    Sacramento News Review

  • “In fiction, Williams is able to reinvent this lost diversity of perspectives, albeit with far more gritty realism that might be found in eighteenth-century versions. Her eclectic and literary approach is personal and psychological rather than philosophical and political…The unreliable and often contradictory voices of the narrative give even implausible scenarios the strangely authentic flavor of rumor and hearsay.”


  • An ingenious encounter with the past and another demonstration of how far the historical novel has advanced from the tableaus, puppet shows, and costume dramas of yore…This is just one instance of Williams’s subtle genius for taking advantage of history’s generosity with motif…Williams shows admirable faith in her readers’ intelligence by not spelling things out and allowing us the exhilarating pleasure of extracting for ourselves the actual story being told. Her restraint and cunning in this regard, as well as her lively characters, sharp wit, and evocation of eighteenth-century optimism—that ‘basic faith in the goodness and rightness of life and the world’—make this debut a real surprise and a triumph.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “Williams’ exceptional debut isn’t your traditional seafaring yarn and is all the stronger and more penetrating for it…Full of period sensibilities, particularly the Enlightenment-era urge to go forth and explore new domains, the novel is alternately charming, invigorating, and heartbreaking, and always thoughtful and humane. Even readers who don’t seek out nautical adventures will find themselves drawn in, especially if they love high-quality literary fiction.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “An entertainingly erudite debut …Especially poignant is her illustration of how native cultures are poorly interpreted by European explorers celebrating the virtues of Enlightenment…William crafts an elegant and entrancing narrative…Literary art of the first order, intelligent and evocative in the way of the best of historical fiction.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Williams’s research is thorough and meticulous, using primary sources such as letters, journals, and reports sent from the expedition…Williams does a masterly job with her descriptions of the officers, sailors, scientists, and people they meet, explaining a colorful, vibrant bit of maritime history in the age of discovery.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “So thrilling in the reading, so richly colored and true to life that, reaching the end, I found myself going back to begin it again. I don’t ask for more from a book.”

    Lynn Freed, author of The Servants’ Quarters

  • Landfalls strikes that rare and perfect balance between being a meticulously researched and utterly trustworthy historical account on the one hand, and a damn good story peopled with highly complex emotionally recognizable characters on the other…formally inventive, structurally satisfying, and deeply moving…Naomi Williams is the real thing.”

    Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

  • “A daring novel deftly written…Williams conjures entire worlds, both external and internal, with remarkable dexterity, leaping nimbly from setting to setting and heart to heart, assembling a book every bit as moving and wondrous as the journey it recreates.”

    Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea

  • “To say that this debut novel is thoroughly delightful may sound too dismissive of what is a deeply researched and ingeniously told story, but there it is: it’s a joy to read…This novel must have been a vast undertaking, but the reader sees none of that heavy lifting…Williams simply weaves in the details that allow her to take her readers around the world on a wondrous journey of discovery.”

    Historical Novel Society

  • Shortlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize
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About the Author

Naomi J. Williams lives in Northern California with her family. Landfalls is her first novel.