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The Whale: A Love Story
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The Whale: A Love Story

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  573 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
A rich and captivating novel set amid the witty, high-spirited literary society of 1850s New England, offering a new window on Herman Melville’s emotionally charged relationship with Nathaniel Hawthorne and how it transformed his masterpiece, Moby-Dick
In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Viking
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Rating details
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Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Never in my WHOLE LIFE did I expect to be breathlessly swept along like if they don't kiss I am going to die over Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but here we are.
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
The plot attracts your attention from the very beginning till the last page. The turmoil of the human soul and the effect of love on it is a mystery, and Mark is trying to solve the mystery of love and how it affects the tender soul of Melville and produce Moby Dick and how Hawthorne was a catalyst.

A catalyst that motivated Melville to dive into his soul and cause pain to everyone around him so he can find some form of salvation in the wilderness of the Berkshires.

One of the best historical no
Mark Beauregard
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
While reading the letters and journals of Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and their contemporaries, I became swept up in the joys and struggles that these great writers lived through while they were creating their masterpieces. Melville's relationship with Hawthorne is one of the most important in American literature, and I wrote THE WHALE: A LOVE STORY to capture the excitement, intensity, and profound affection that they shared. I hope you enjoy reading it!
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, favorites
I am a sucker for fictional recreations of writerly lives, and Beauregard’s painstaking reconstruction of the doomed trajectory of the ‘affair’ between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the best I have ever read.

It joins a select pantheon that includes Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut (about E.M. Forster), The Typewriter's Tale by Michiel Heyns and The Master by Colm Tóibín (both about Henry James), and A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (about an ageing Sherlock Holmes refl
Ericka Seidemann
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: whaling
Mark Beauregard’s The Whale: A Love Story is the novelization of the unfulfilled romantic longing between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne during the short time they lived near one another in Massachusetts from 1850-1851.

During this time, Melville was pursued by creditors and lived off of loans from his father-in-law. His writings yield lackluster profits, and he struggled financially. He met Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic and was instantly captivated, falling in love that spiraled into
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I became aware of this novel about a month ago while perusing the internet for content analyzing the complex relationship between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Let's just say I was ecstatic beyond expression when I learned of The Whale: A Love Story's existence. For years now I have been intrigued by the two author's passion and regard for each other. There is absolutely no doubt that Herman Melville was madly in love with Nathaniel Hawthorne and that Hawthorne loved Melville in his o ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Maybe this was a mistake reading this after finishing Michael Shelden's non-fiction work MELVILLE IN LOVE investigating the private yearnings and escapades of Herman Melville while writing MOBY DICK in 1850 while living in The Berkshires. Maybe. Yeah. Okay. YES. Big Mistake.

While Shelden researched and basically proved that Melville was involved with a married woman neighbor during his Berkshire experience, this is a fictional account of Herman Melville's passion for Nathaniel Hawthorne, which i
Carissa Goble
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Everything I could ever have hoped for or wanted from a love story between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville. Repressed puritan moral restraint. Obsessive passion without dramatic action. So much love. This is first romance novel that I fully loved. And a great palate cleanser between heavier works.
This book made me want to read Hawthorne and Melville's entire works in full searching it for any hint that the theory of this book could be true. If the premise of a romantic relationship betw
Jun 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was something of an unexpected treat. I usually enjoy books about writing or writers so I went into it with a pretty positive attitude, but I wound up liking it more than I thought I would. The writing sparkled, especially in dialog, and reality notwithstanding the picture of Melville as obsessive, lovesick, consumed by his own quest for a white whale - Hawthorne as well as the completion of his novel - was expertly drawn.

William Kuhn
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot speak highly enough of this book. He manages to make me want to go read Melville and Hawthorne in the original now. Hats off to Mark Beauregard.
Paula Cappa
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love biographical fiction and this one belongs at the top of the list. Beauregard writes an insightful tale about Herman Melville's most intimate thoughts concerning Melville's attraction to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The physical attraction hinges on their mutual creativity as writers, their philosophies, and deep friendship. Hawthorne fans should not miss this book. What's interesting is I just finished Melville In Love, The Secret Life of Herman Melville and the Mu ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Mark Beauregard has written a delicious book of all the anticipations and exigencies of love. Never has so many legs brushing in carriages been so thrilling. The Whale: A Love Story is tale of metaphysical attraction so overpowering that it leaves in its wake, a path of destruction as it wantonly destroys the lives all around it. Wait, didn't Melville write a book about that, something about a fish maybe?

And while we can quibble about the details because the historical record is already quicksa
Kirsten T
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this torture to read, though I appreciate the author's attention to historical detail. I didn't care for Melville as a character or narrator. I also didn't buy this as a legitimate interpretation of Melville and Hawthorne's letters, and I was very willing to be convinced. Three stars because it's probably just a matter of taste. (Dinged down to 2 stars on 12/21/17 because I remember this as the worst book I read this year, and I had rated a bunch of other books I actually enjoyed three s ...more
Leah Angstman
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful chucklefest of literary delight. The author has created the often-questioned, often-implied romance between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville in exquisite detail, and I just grinned and grinned all the way through. It's touching, sad, happy, funny, surprising ... all the right things at all the right times. I will never look at Moby-Dick or The House of the Seven Gables the same way again. Highly recommended.
Mary McBride
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was so much more than I had anticipated. I thought it was great and the writing was mesmerizing. The story of Melville and the writing of Moby Dick as well as his friendship/infatuation with Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Amazing to think that a classic such as Moby Dick never received literary accolades when it was published.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting the book to be what it turned out to be, but it was beautiful. Beauregard wrote this fiction through meticulous research on the time period and its memorable characters. Although the love affair between Hawthorne and Melville is fabricated by the author, it is believable in its context. The backdrop of the book takes the reader through the mid-19th century Berkshires, when American literature was coming into its own. The story is pleasurable to read and easily digestible to a ...more
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful, strange book. Melville and Hawthorne were friends in reality, and really did dedicate books to each other. They lived about six miles from each other in the Berkshires for a while. This novel looks at Melville's consuming crush/love for Hawthorne. Portions of the book include letters between the two - Melville's are real, but Hawthorne's are fictional as his letters have been lost. How this relationship might have affected the plot of Moby Dick is interesting to consider, as ...more
Sydney Young
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another strange book but well written and evidently well researched. I didn't know what I was getting with this, thought the love story would have been the whale. Clearly my lit teachers didn't point me to the world's suspicions.

Once I figured it out, Honestly I wasn't sure that I wanted to read it, but I'm glad I plowed through. It's so sad that Melville didn't achieve fame and fortune during his lifetime, his writing is so amazing and so his own. Glad I read it and got this different insight
Melissa Acuna
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A meticulously researched novel that explores the relationship between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne during the early 1850's when they both resided in Western Massachusetts.
Mark Beauregard explores the events and constructs a plausible story explaining Melville's dedication of Moby Dick to Hawthorne.
Rachel Wexelbaum
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, lgbt, classics
Who knew that Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne had a thing for each other? I read this book in one sitting, it was so good. I am a Scarlet Letter and Moby Dick aficionado from way back in high school...a shame that so many schools no longer teach these classics. People just might learn something.
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't know. I wanted to love this. I didn't really love it. It's fine.
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent writing. It makes me want to read Moby Dick again.
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. I wanted more of Melville & Hawthorne working in Moby Dick, & less of Meville's emo pining & poor life decisions.
Infamous Sphere
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Tearful Boners: The Novel

My experience was slightly hampered by me reading this in large print, which made it feel slightly childish. It's clunky, emotional, and fraught with turmoil - which means it's the perfect representation for Melville himself. I couldn't think of anyone more excitable, awkward, or full of feelings.
I liked it a lot but I'm not sure it would have much value for people who weren't already interested in Melville. I mention the tearful boners specifically because being emoti
Jon Wilson
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I remember a teacher asking me how I felt about Moby Dick and my answering her: "Well, mostly I feel like throwing it across the room, screaming 'When is something gonna happen?'"

Or maybe I didn't. Maybe I merely invented the exchange since it so neatly encapsulates my feelings for Melville's classic (which I haven't tried to reread in the more than quarter century since reading it in school). Also, I was not a particularly precocious child.

It's also how I felt reading Beauregard's slashfiction
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
So bad it's almost interesting.
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lost-interest
I've been trying for a few days, but going to have to give it up at 30%. When I saw the synopsis, I was totally on board, thinking I would be getting something along the lines of The Paris Wife, but what was delivered was more along the lines of purple prose meets English essay analysis.
There was a lot of potential here. The end of chapter 3 had me running over to Wikipedia, because clearly my English teacher had left out some very interesting history/speculation about the "friendship" between
Rachel Pollock
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
I think I like the idea of this book better than I liked the experience of reading it. I don't ascribe this to the quality of the work itself, because I don't think I am the best audience for it. If you really enjoy the writing of Melville, Hawthorne, or both, I think you would really love this novel. I, however, don't care for either one, so I found a lot of the stylistic choices to be hard going, even as I appreciated them from an intellectual standpoint.

I also question (even as I acknowledge
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Well, I didn't finish this book.

That's unusual for me because I usually at least skim a book and get a good feel for it before throwing in the towel. But THIS particular book, nope, not interested. Beauregard is a wonderful writer and has a good sense of the time period (felt like I was immersed in an Austen novel--picnics in the field! forbidden romance!) but the plot and angst just isn't for me. In The Whale, Beauregard writes about a love story between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Mark Beauregard has been a journalist, magazine editor, and manager of nonprofit arts and community organizations. He has lived in many places throughout the United States and Europe and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.

More about Mark Beauregard

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“Asking the question matters more than finding the answer.” 3 likes
“He seemed not to need mere physical sustenance anymore, surviving instead on a spiritual alchemy of memory and desire.” 2 likes
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