“Breathes with a contemporary urgency, an exhilarating adventure novel… A genuine page-turner that long lingers in the mind.”— Chicago Tribune
Capturing a crucial moment in the history of exploration, the mid-nineteenth century romance with the Arctic, Andrea Barrett focuses on a particular expedition and its accompanying scholar-naturalist, Erasmus Darwin Wells. Through his eyes, we meet the Narwhal’s crew and its commander — obsessed with the search for an open polar sea — and encounter the far-north culture of the Esquimaux. In counterpoint, we see the women left behind in Philadelphia, explorers only in imagination. Together, those who travel and those who stay weave a web of myth and mystery. And finally they discover — as all explorers do — not what was always there and never needed discovering, but the state of their own souls.