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Melville in Love: The Secret Life of Herman Melville and the Muse of Moby-Dick
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Melville in Love: The Secret Life of Herman Melville and the Muse of Moby-Dick

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  103 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
A new account of Herman Melville and the writing of Moby-Dick, written by a Pulitzer Finalist in Biography and based on fresh archival research, which reveals that the anarchic spirit animating Melville’s canonical work, Moby-Dick, was inspired by his great love affair with a shockingly unconventional married woman.

Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby-Dick, was a spectacular
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Ecco
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Diane S ☔
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor
3.5 I first read Moby Dick when one of my sons was a senior in high school, it was assigned reading in his lit class. When he complained about having to read a book with so many pages, I just laughed. He asked me if I had read it and then challenged me to read it with him. If not for that challenge, not sure I would have finished. There are moments of brilliance but also moments of stupefying boredom. Or so I thought, but I also, thought Melville must have been a fascinating man.

He was, but like
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writers, biography

Author Michael Shelden focuses on a short but pivotal time in Herman Melville’s life. Sheldon poses that falling in love informed Melville’s career-wrecking novel “Pierre”, and provided the emotional energy that infuses his masterpiece, “Moby Dick”.

After his big success with novels of Polynesia, Melville moved his small family to Pittsfield, MA. His uncle had property there that was being sold to Rowland Morewood and it is on this estate, Broadhall, that Melville met the buyer’s fun loving wife.
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is 165 years since “Moby Dick” was published. The book was published in 1851. The book was a failure at the time and Melville was ignored by the academics for a long time, and little was done to save his legacy. Little information is now available for biographers doing research. Michael Shelden was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his biography book “Orwell”. Shelden states while doing archival research he came across new information about Melville. He claims to have found a “long trail of clues ...more
La Tonya  Jordan
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to La Tonya by: Carmel Indiana Library
Shelves: good-read
The writer of Moby-Dick, the story of the great whale, had a life a adventure, love, and tragedy. The classic novel was not recognized for its literary accomplishments until long after his death. He did not receive the praise in his life time. It left him a bitter man.

The one love of his life Mrs. Sarah Morewood was a married woman whom he could not claim as his own. Their summer of 1850 in the Berkshires of Massachusetts would be the highlight of his life with the picnics, serious conversations
Evelyn McKinley
Melville in Love is the sixth biography by talented author Michael Shelden and should not be overlooked. It is a wonderful story that reads like a novel. The rich descriptions and flow of words takes us through life in east coast America in the mid 1850’s and beyond. As readers, we touch the furniture, peek into parlors, and feel the angst of a man in love who happens to be Herman Melville. Shelden’s narrative allows us to see a man driven, consumed, and enriched by a love that is beyond a tradi ...more
Paula Cappa
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Did you know that Herman Melville, author of Moby-Dick, climbed Mt. Greylock? In 1851 Melville climbed Mt. Greylock on the trail called Bellows Pipe. This ‘excursion to Greylock’ was by wagon and horses, and on foot. What is most amazing is that he made the climb with his secret lover Mrs. Sarah Moorewood. Sarah was a “wild beauty” who rode a colt named Black Quake. She had a salacious reputation that would make men tremble in her presence. And Herman Melville fell into her lusty charms. Impossi ...more
Owly Byrd
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wouldn't be surprised if this became a film drama-bio.
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at Melville's life and his affair with Mrs Morewood. However, the material might have made a better essay than a full-length book.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, moving account of Melville's life. 1850's Pittsfield in the Berkshires is the setting for his real life love affair - complicated, brazen, theatrical, romantic, tortured, desperate. His unrequited pursuit of passion and love is discreetly played out in 'Pierre, or the Ambiguities' and immortalized in his epic poem 'Clarel', and may reveal what drove him to conjure the madness of Ahab's character. He was able to work on 'Moby-Dick' in his comfortable farmhouse beside a fireplace tha ...more
Linda Gaines
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really didn't think Shelden proves (beyond doubt) that Herman and Sarah had a sexual relationship. They certainly were close according to their writings but I thought there was too much speculation for a biography. It was very well researched and I liked reading more of how those New England writers lived. Melville made some bad choices but it was too bad that Moby-Dick was never recognized as great literature in his lifetime.
Jean Mehochko
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting book. The author makes a strong case for his view that Melville's infatuation with a wealthy man's wife influenced his writing and many of his decisions. Hmmm, he died unknown and fairly poor . . . there may be consequences for your actions.
Dewayne Stark
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Currently reading Moby Dick for the third time and was searching for a biography and found this.
Geriann Albers
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Little dry at times, but well researched.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Being unfamiliar with Herman Melville beyond the fact that he wrote Moby Dick, this book definitely had information new to me. It was intriguing to learn the personal side of such a giant in American literature. It's always fascinating to see such figures as human as you or I. However, some of the points the author reaches seem overly stressed. He expounds on the same points again and again, to the point of the proverbial 2x4. For a work this small, this duplicate expounding is even more evident ...more
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
In Melville in Love: The Secret Life of Herman Melville and Muse of Moby-Dick ,Michael Shelden makes the assertion that Herman Melville was in love with and carried on an affair with a married woman by the name of Sarah Morewood during the time he wrote Moby-Dick. Mrs. Morewood (and her husband) bought Broad Hall, the grand estate that Herman Melville's uncle once owned, and where Melville spent part of his youth. Shelden alleges that after meeting Morewood, Melville rushed to purchase an adjoi ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The summer of 1850 was an important one for author Herman Melville. He worked on his famous novel Moby-Dick, changed his living environs and uprooted his family to the Berkshires, began his descent into debt and public ridicule and obscurity, and according to author Michael Shelden, was inspired, distracted, obsessed and began his ascent to writing a great piece of literature and the slide due to his affair with his Pitsfield neighbor the married Sara Morewood. Sara's libertine sensibilities and ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. This is the second book about Melville I've read this year (also read The Whale, which is fiction). Both argue that Melville wrote Moby Dick under the influence of a major love affair, but they differ as to the object of that love. In this case, it's Sarah Morewood, who owned the neighboring house to his in Pittsfield. Nathaniel Hawthorne, the object of Meville's affections in The Whale, is mentioned in passing here and a point is made about Hawthorne's homophobia.

Regardless, this st
Stacey Lynne
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this. I knew very little about Melville going into it but have always been a fan of his work and have visited some of his haunts in New England. This is a quick easy read, well researched and nicely written. I did have to skim over some sections where the author gives analysis of Melville's books. I understand he was trying to connect them to events happening in Herman's life, but I felt it was a bit padded and unnecessary at times. Having just read a book of Hawthorne's letter ...more
Danielle Flood
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like a ghost, Michael Shelden takes you back more than 160 years and hosts you through the torrid love affair between wild, romantic personalities and passionate lovers: the handsome married author of MOBY DICK, Herman Melville, and the beautiful married literary figure of the Berkshires, Sarah Morewood. “…in the great hall its stately elegance still evokes a slower time when the loudest sounds were the ticking of a clock or the sound of boots on the stair.” -- Like that Shelden transports and b ...more
PennsyLady (Bev)
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it

The title definitely describes this sketch set primarily around
1851 and introducing " Sarah Morewood—then regarded as a literary light in the Berkshires" (from publisher's note)
We'll trace the romantic and intellectual coupling of Herman Melvile and Sarah Morewood.
"Literary luminaries"--like Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and Nathaniel Hawthorne can be found sharing their acquaintance.

The book is well researched and quite an interesting snippet drawn from the life of Herman Melville.

Emma T. Clement
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Here it is.

This book was interesting, but not exactly what I had expected or hoped. The title and cover led me to believe that the relationship between Herman Melville and Sarah would be a little more than it was. Their relationship, to me, ended kind of anticlimactically and left me disappointed. I think this book was well researched, but the writing style was not my favorite and I wish the story had been told in a bit more
Camille Wilson
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting account of enigmatic author, Herman Melville and his true love, Sarah Morewood. Upon publication of Moby Dick, Melville was criticized and ridiculed for writing what was much later recognized as one of the greatest American novels ever written. I tried to read it in college but never quite got into it. After reading the story behind the story, I think it's definitely worth another try.
Peter Boody
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have read Melville biographies over the years but recall nothing about Broadhall, now a golf clubhouse on Rt 7 below Pittsfield, and the lady of the house, Sarah Morehead. This book makes a convincing case that she and Melville were lovers in plain sight of their spouses and the whole Berkshire community and that their relationship drove the arc of Melville's truncated career as a novelist. I found it all fascinating.
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love Moby Dick, and the back story of Melville and Sarah Morewood here was breathtaking. There's so much to explore in the greatest American novel, and this biography of the author is extremely readable. I actually cracked open my old Heath Anthology of American Literature and read the Melville bio therein. Lifeless by comparison. I hope every student of Moby Dick reads this biography first!
Bill Higgins
Aug 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Three and a half stars. Who knew? Melville spent the happiest years of his life in Pittsfield Mass.
And that's where he wrote Moby-Dick. Not in Nantucket or New Bedford or some other seaside port. Pittsfield. Unfortunately, when he found the love of his live, she was married to someone else. As was he. They did the best they could under the circumstances. Very interesting story.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
The author presents a good case, using letters and papers that have only recently come to light, that Melville was deeply influenced by a relationship that has been dismissed as insignificant by other biographers. Fascinating and enlightening!
Olga Vannucci
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
He was so misunderstood,
Though not by Mrs. Morewood.
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I would say 3 1/2 - 4.. Some areas seemed long ,but for the most part I found it interesting.
Luke Forster-Broten
rated it it was ok
Jan 10, 2018
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