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The Rathbones

3.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,290 Ratings  ·  312 Reviews
A literary adventure set in New England, Janice Clark's gothic debut chronicles one hundred years of a once prosperous seafaring dynasty.

Moses, the revered patriarch of the Rathbone family, possessed an otherworldly instinct for spotting the whale. But years of bad decisions by the heirs to his fortune have whittled his formerly robust family down to just one surviving mem
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 6th 2013 by Doubleday
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Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This may have been the weirdest book I have ever read. And I've read a lot of really weird books.

Some topics covered in this book:

-basic carpentry
-pickling techniques
-sperm whale anatomy
-wife swapping

It's just a multitude of creepiness, yet I couldn't put it down. It was completely surreal, absolutely weird, and at times more than a bit icky, and yet I really enjoyed it and was bummed that it stopped.

It follows the adventures of Mercy as she uncovers the s
So. An interesting and incredibly juicy premise of a whaling family wholly populated by and due to incest, an adventure that span multiple islands with old enigmatic people working at looms, crazy old people filling their house with beauty because they themselves have none, a Penelope like woman supposedly waiting for a husband that left 10 years ago following the whales, a Charles Darwin type naturalist who has spent his entire life in a dark attic, a number of women blessed with extraordinary ...more
From The Millions article:
The Rathbones by Janice Clark: The Rathbones is the most sui generis debut you’re likely to encounter this year. Think Moby-Dick directed by David Lynch from a screenplay by Gabriel Garcia Marquez…with Charles Addams doing the set design and The Decembrists supplying the chanteys. Initially the story of the last surviving member of an eccentric 19th-Century whaling dynasty, it becomes the story of that dynasty itself. I should also say that this was the single most exci
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
2 stars - Meh. Just ok.

Have you ever ordered something from a restaurant, and when the waiter sets down your dish you instantly knew they had served the wrong entree? And then when you tell the surly waiter, "No, I ordered XYZ", they replied, "but that IS XYZ". Yeah, this book was like that.

I was expecting historical fiction with a touch of magical realism, and while those ingredients are present, it also ended up being an incredibly creepy, sometimes strange, but most of the time boring book...
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best novels I've read in the past year ... it's part historical novel, allegory, fable, family saga and fictional memoir. It is Janice Clark's first book and she is a rare talent, one I'll be watching.

Without giving too much away, the story of The Rathbone family is set in the mid nineteenth century, on the sea faring coast of Connecticut. The males of the family are whalers, the progeny of Moses Rathbone. There are disturbing aspects to the family history, but handled with a
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it

Such a great read! The Rathbone's is an unusual and unique tale. It was like reading a classic -- it has a courageous heroine named Mercy (a coming-of-age whaling dynasty heiress) amid gorgeous language of ships and sea; descriptions so engaging and naturally vivid I was surprised to not find sea mist and fog (and crows) out my window. Yet, this novel also had a boldly strange twist that is hard to define (some are calling David Lynch-esque). At times, it had me looking up and around from my boo
In its basic concepts, the book comes down to a story about the Rathbones, a whaling family, their wives and descendants. It covers about 100 years, from the mid 1700’s to the mid 1800”s. The book is narrated by Mercy Rathbone, as she and Mordechai Rathbone, whom we meet as her cousin and tutor, search for her father and brother who had disappeared years ago. We discover the history of the family, side by side with them, basically by piecing together journals, logs, conversations, and interviews ...more
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: East Coast Gothic aficianados

After completing this book, I felt I had just stepped off that Mr. Toad ride at Disneyland. Funky and freaky. Gothic and nautical. Squirmy and psychedelic.

Hit me with your rhythm stick!

Using the travels of Odysseus as her broomstick, Janice Clark has created a gothic seaboard world of dubious ancestral ties and longings not fully understood by the story's young heroine. Saltwater may just as well be swishing on the paper, because the sea is everywhere, pulling the characters and the reader back
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
A book that is basically entertaining but bothered me so much. There are passages such as "a honeymoon on which he traveled only to her golden cove" - (maybe just a difference in taste). Clark skipped the realism part of magic realism. Comments about a school of flounder swimming at the top of deep water ( a much larger creature passing deep below them), manatees in Connecticut, Penguins at the North Pole (this is somewhat vindicated later), characters speaking of Mendel's experiments a few year ...more
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Janice Clark is a writer and designer living in Chicago. She grew up in Mystic, Connecticut (land of whaling and pizza) and has lived in Montreal, Kansas City, San Francisco, and New York, where she earned an MFA in writing at NYU. Her short fiction has appeared in Pindeldyboz and The Nebraska Review and her design work is represented in the Museum of Modern Art. The Rathbones, which she also illu ...more
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“I had looked into the distance so long that I hadn't seen what was near at hand. If we don't cherish those who stay near, what do we have? Only longing. Longing which we grow to love because it's all we have.” 7 likes
“If we don't cherish those who stay near, what do we have? Only longing.” 0 likes
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