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Extended Audio Sample The Voyage of the Narwhal: A Novel, by Andrea Barrett Click for printable size audiobook cover
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: Andrea Barrett Narrator: George Guidall Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Exceptional research and detail, a big story—adventurers sailing to the North Pole—made this so good our reviewer wanted to forget it all so she could start over and be surprised again.”

    Detroit Free Press

  • “Barrett transports readers to a vast and stunning land at a time when it held the world’s imagination in its grip. Through her skill as a novelist, a century and a half later it still does.”

    Seattle Times

  • “No sooner do we bemoan the dearth of ambitious American women novelists of ideas than Andrea Barrett delivers this grand, intelligent, wide-ranging work. With elegance and economy, she’s pulled off a seemingly impossible feat: critiquing the complacent authority of the nineteenth century novel in a book that’s just as much fun to read as an old-fashioned Victorian opus.”

    Salon, “Our Favorite Books of 1998"

  • “Having honed her craft in four previous novels and the National Book Award–winning short-story collection Ship Fever, Barrett delivers a stunning novel in which a meticulous grasp of historical and natural detail, insight into character, and pulse-pounding action are integrated into a dramatic adventure story with deep moral resonance.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction
  • A 1998 New York Times Notable Book for Fiction
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