Book Club: In The Heart of the Sea

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Author: Nathaniel Philbrick
ISBN: 978-0-00-812683-4
RRP: $22.99

I feel like I should start this with some background. I had read a little about the book but wasn’t really familiar with what I was getting myself into. What I did read was enough to intrigue me, but not prepare me.

In The Heart of the Sea is a TRUE STORY, it is also the story that inspired Moby Dick. I feel that I need to mention here that I haven’t read Moby Dick, I know it was about a whale but that’s about it. It’s a classic that I always thought I should read but never quite got around to.

I thought this was a new book but it’s just a new edition. First published in 2000 In The Heart of the Sea is now being made into a major motion picture starring Chris Hemsworth and this is the new edition. I want to say the movie tie in release but I’m not sure.

This book was written long after the story took place so as well as the events as they took place we read about all of the research that has gone into the book, all of the findings that have been made in the years since about the events and their effects on the people.

In The Heart of the Sea is the incredible tale of the sinking of the whaleship Essex from Nantucket but it is also an extensive study of Nantucket and of whaling in the early 19th Century.

Nantucket is a place I am familiar with, though it’s history was completely new to me. I know of it through books set in the trendy seaside tourist island, I did not know of it’s whaling history. Whaling, too, is something I knew of but nothing substantial about. I know that within my lifetime people have lobbied to have it stopped but that was about it.

In The Heart of the Sea has given me a working knowledge of 19th Century whaling and I feel that it’s barbaric, there were whaling scenes that turned my stomach. It was certainly eye opening and education is never a bad thing, I can certainly understand the lobbying to have whaling stopped.

in the heart of the sea

I am struggling a little with what I want to say because I still haven’t fully processed it. Non-fiction is not usually my thing and my relationship with history is sketchy at best. This was written to follow the timeline of the Essex voyage though peppered with newer information and research. The writing style was well done, the way newer information was integrated with the account of the Essex voyage was easy to follow and always relevant.

This is where I am going to have real trouble vocalising because I found the book dragged and it was quite heavy reading. Yet I can’t really say that the pacing was off or slow because these poor whalemen was stranded at sea for 93 days and not a lot happens, I’m sure they felt it dragged a lot more than I did.

I think the movie will be fantastic and I don’t think it will drag because it will need to be condensed into a couple of hours. Having said all of that I think this was a well researched and well written book that Philbrick was clearly passionate about.

The way that Melville and Moby Dick are woven into In The Heart of the Sea tells the story of how Moby Dick was inspired to give a little insight into that book as well. I am definitely considering adding Moby Dick to my list of books to read.

I will be interested to hear other’s thoughts on this one, and especially from those who have read Moby Dick. An engrossing and educational read that captivated me even when I felt that I was working hard to make progress.

Nathaniel Philbrick is on Facebook and his Website.

In The Heart of the Sea is available from Harper Collins, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

30 of our lucky readers will also be reading In The Heart of the Sea so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

34 thoughts on “Book Club: In The Heart of the Sea

  1. I am looking forward to read this book. It sounds interesting and well researched. I love the intense world of the sea and whaling. A cruel and sad world.

  2. You know what, I have never read the book Moby Dick either, all I knew was it had a whale.

    I’m not sure I would enjoy reading about whales being tortured…for the last 4 years I have been out on the whale boats enjoying the spectacle they put on. I am a huge lover of these beautiful creatures and to this day, I hate the killing of whales.

    I’ve seen the movie previews with Chris Hemsworth coming out soon and tend to look away when it comes on.

    Will be interested though to see what comments come out with this book though.

  3. In the Heart of the Sea sounds like a fascinating read. I enjoy alternating my reading between fiction and non-fiction and I’m up for a challenging read while I’m on leave over Christmas and will have the time to get engrossed in a great book.

  4. I have Moby Dick to read while waiting for In The Heart of The Sea to arrive. I read it many years ago but decided to do a little advanced reading to refresh myself.

  5. Thank you for selecting me to read this book what an incredible story, the lives of the men and women back in those days must have been so difficult, I had no idea the whaling boats were gone for 2-3 years to sea and the dangers faced by the crews were dreadful, was very sad reading about how they harpooned the whales and the dragging till the whales tired so they could kill them got a bit gory with how the whales were sliced up, was also very sad to read about the Galapagos tortoises though I guess I can understand that the men had to eat, spending 94 days in a little boat running out of food and water I guess they had to resort to cannibalism I will not judge the seamen on this as I have never been in their situation,back in those days no one knew about conservation and life was so hard for everybody, the pictures in the book are brilliant the book is heavy reading but I found interesting I am pleased that the whaling industry has ceased in most countries

  6. This is a fast-paced true story that reads like tragic adventure. It is the tale of the sinking of Essex, a whaling ship and the ordeal the crew encounters stranded at sea. The background material provided through drew me in and it is really well written reminding us all about the terrors of whaling. The graphic and long tale of the men’s survival at sea was gripping lengths they are driven for survival. I enjoyed reading this book and have recommended it to family and friends.

  7. The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick is an incredibly well researched and detailed book, drawing upon historical records and survivor accounts, to tell the true story of the Nantucket whaling ship, The Essex, which was repeatedly rammed and sunk by an eighty-ton bull sperm whale, leaving the surviving crew adrift for 90+ days in three tiny boats.

    However the book is not only a harrowing survival story, which details the horrors the survivors were forced to endure, as one by one they started to die. It also provides a potted history of whaling in the Nantucket area and details the life and economic fortunes of those who depended on the whaling trade, back at the turn of the century.

    The book is an interesting and informative historical piece and you can almost taste the sea spray in the air as you read it, but it is not an easy read. At times it is a little long winded as you wade through all the facts and information you are provided with. And the details about the slaughtering of the whales, the effects of extreme dehydration and starvation and eventual cannibalism are quite graphic. However the book is well written, the narrative is never boring and you really do feel a part of this incredible, true, man vs nature, adventure story.

  8. I had not heard of Nathaniel Philbrick before reading IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, but there is no doubt that he is a great writer. I am also impressed by how much research he must have done. He has masterly compiled and linked all of the log, journal and written accounts into one impressive narrative.

    IN THE HEART OF THE SEA is an exciting read. I loved all of the historical detail. The inclusion of copies of documents, art works, photographs and especially maps added to my understanding.

    I had a basic understanding of whaling and the life aboard the ships before reading IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, but now fully appreciate the dangers to the men and how horrific the killing and butchering of the whales truly is.

    The disastrous incident with the mighty whale and the sinking of their ship saw the men at the mercy of the sea in just the smaller whaling boats. The plight of the sailors out in the small boats got very real very fast once they began to run out of food.

    Not a read for the faint hearted, but one I do recommend.

  9. Did I enjoy In the Heart of the Sea? NO – but I didn’t expect to – this isn’t a book for enjoyment, in my opinion. However, it is incredibly well researched and dealing as it does with such a tragic event and the barbaric whaling industry it is fascinating. A telling sentence early in the book says “A whaler was, after all, a factory ship – (which) tended to desentize the men to the awesome wonder of the whale.”

    I haven’t read Moby Dick. The way Moby Dick, the sinking of the Essex and the narrative of survivors was woven together throughout the book is incredibly well written. Having said that, though, I agree completely with Michelle, that the book dragged. I don’t think it would have been possible to “speed it up” without losing the integrity of the novel.

    I was impressed that the book continued on after the survivors all reached Nantucket so that there were no “loose ends.” The factual way the story continues so that we have an insight into lives led by the survivors once they returned to some sort of “normal existence” is well done.

    My over riding impression, apart from the barbaric nature of whaling, which I was fairly well aware of, is that so much tragedy continued to haunt some of the survivors. Their very survival extracted so much from the men that “normality” was impossible for the most part. The incredible research that has gone into this book makes it something special.

    There are times when it is good to read something well out of my comfort zone and this was one of those times. Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for taking me “out of my comfort zone” and giving me an insight into something I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

  10. Truthfully, I was a little ambivalent about this before I started it. When I read non-fiction, I prefer biographies or occasionally history, and this combined both to some extent. But I have read “Moby Dick”, and thought it was the most boring piece of stodge I’ve ever dragged myself through. So I thought this might be a “love it or hate it” book.

    In fact, it fell somewhere between those extremes. I found it readable, and interesting, but not riveting. One of the difficulties is that there isn’t a strong character that you feel you know well and are interested in. This is partly because Philbrick has focused heavily on one incident, leaving much of the men’s history (and indeed, futures) rather vague. It is also because he’s tried to be historically accurate, and portray only those things about the shipwrecked men which are “known”. At such a distance in time, a lot has been lost. The result is that you don’t really have anyone to be invested in as you read. I was, however, interested in the occasions where Philbrick attempts to weigh up the relative credence of conflicting accounts. With limited other contemporary sources, he sometimes leans towards simple knowledge of human nature – and that helped bring the book to life for me.

    Another of the positives, for me, was that Philbrick occasionally used modern knowledge or studies to cast light on what happened to the shipwrecked men. This was interesting, and helped to make the book about more than some distant event.

    I was also particularly interested in some of the discussion of the kind of society that developed on Nantucket, and what it meant for gender roles and relationships in general. Although maybe not essential to the main story, I found this fascinating.

    This is a well researched and detailed account of a fairly horrifying event, and one most people have at least a vague awareness of. I did find it interesting to find out what “really” happened – or at least as accurately as is possible after so long. However, I found the long period of floating around in small boats rather boring – largely, as I’ve said, because I hadn’t been given a chance to know or care about any of the men except in an abstract way.

    I suspect this book might have a fairly small audience; but those who are interested in the events behind “Moby Dick”, or in whaling history in general, will probably really appreciate this book. It’s meticulous, and as I said, quite readable, although it drags in places.

  11. What an amazing read this true story of one of the Whaling Industries long forgotten disasters. I must admit I did think to myself another “Moby Dick” styled saga-wow I sure was wrong. The lead up to that life changing moment when the ship befalls disaster gives a great look at the personal lives and attitudes of the men involved and how what happened altered their way of living for the rest of their lives. What befell these men was eerie in itself but once they depart the wreck in their whaling boats many true shocking events and merciless suffering begin to unfold. Alongside this is a form of bigotry and “cast filing” that in itself does cause the strange events near the final chapters to occur.
    I read this tale in one sitting as the web of familiarity Nathaniel Philbrick weaves is both spellbinding and deep. This book is a true eye opener and page turner but the final additions to the story in the last chapters of the book were lacklustre indeed and really blunted the sharp tale that preceded them. Not a story to be compared with others and don’t be fooled into thinking its another Moby Dick as the only thing both stories have in common is the whale. A top read and one that to not experience would be a great loss.

  12. Firstly, l am so glad l have been also chosen to read this incredible and fascinating story of both adventure and yet harrowing events that occurred on Nantucket.

    A true story both written historically and well researched on the tragic death of these sailors and the fight for survival in pursuit of gain in killing whales. Nathaniel Philbrick is a historian who writes about the life and struggles these sailors had in living years out in the sea. If we one thinks this is a novel of fiction, one would be disappointed as it is an historical and true story with photos and one becomes emerged and feels the suffering these crews must have gone through leaving all behind. A book that dwells deep in the heart of the sea that grips you in knowing more what these men went through and the pursuit of one whale.

  13. I must admit that when I first received my copy of In The Heart Of The Sea to review, I was sure that it wouldn’t be a book that I would hold in high regard, as the subject isn’t one that would usually appeal to me. However, I can say that this book took me by surprise and I actually did enjoy reading it.
    Yes, it is very detailed, very well researched, and thoroughly described, which at times, can make the storyline drag, but having said that, I still found myself eagerly turning the pages!
    The struggles that the seamen were faced with were described well. It is quite gory in parts but it was to be expected when describing the whaling process, and the cannibalism. I have to say that I did have to skim over the parts when it got a bit too much!
    I would be very curious to see how this story has been adapted to film, and have put it on my list of movies to watch over the summer holidays.
    I must also add that the pictures and photo’s were a fantastic addition to the book, and gave an even deeper insight into the Essex crew, and Essex itself.
    Whilst I don’t think that this would be a book that would be enjoyed by a very big audience, I do think that it has a lot of interesting factual information regarding this historical time, and those with an interest in this area will thoroughly enjoy this book. Thank you for the opportunity to review.

  14. Many thanks to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this book which I found interesting and compelling.
    It gave me an insight and information about the world of whaling hunting and the lives of people living in those dangerous times.
    Some details were very graphic regarding men ‘s living conditions and the way whales were killed.
    However I enjoyed reading this informative and fascinating book. Again thanks

  15. Thanks again for sending me a copy to read I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very insightful into the world of whaling as the author did a lot of research about Nantucket, the history and the people the book featured on such as the captain “Pollard and Owen Chase”. I found it very interesting reading the endurance of mankind. I liked the end how it explained what happened to the survivors after their ordeal and how their lives became. I can’t wait to see the movie now.

  16. I was lucky to receive a copy to review, and I (like some others) didn’t have much knowledge about the book other than – Chris Hemsworth is in the movie adaptation – and it is the true story which inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I began to read the book, and now having finished it and taken some time to process it I’m still not sure where I stand with it!

    Just like the whalers on the unpredictable open ocean I found myself changing course so many times whilst reading this book. I was bored, I was fascinated, I was overwhelmed with information, I wanted to know more, I couldn’t pick the book up, I couldn’t put the book down. You get the idea.

    I found the book quite slow to start, but still appreciated the detail and research and effort that went into the creation of the book. While Owen Chase and Thomas Nickerson’s accounts of the Essex are the main sources of information author Nathaniel Philbrick was clearly very thorough in his research and so the final product gives you great insight into not only the story of the Essex but of the whaling industry, and everyday life in the 19th Century.

    The majority of the book is taken up with what happened to the men in the 90 days they had to survive at sea after the Essex was attacked and sank. For me this was the most intriguing and enlightening part of the book, and captured my whole attention. The entire time you need to remind yourself this IS NOT fiction, this did happen. I’m always so amazed by stories of human survival.

    What I really liked (and yet also really wish I could unread) was the depth of information Philbrick provides about what happened physically and mentally to the Essex survivors. He also mixes in stories of survival from other people throughout history pushed to the very edge to ensure their own survival.

    While reading the book I found myself raving to friends and family about it and sharing facts I had picked up from the book, and while I do recommend it as a fascinating read, it definitely isn’t an easy read nor one for the faint of heart.

    I can’t wait to see what they have done with the movie adaptation.

  17. What an interesting book this one has been.
    I thought In The The Heart Of The Sea would be a difficult read, but I found it written in such a way that I could follow it easily, and really wonder at the bravery of the Whale Hunting men in those early days.
    The strain on the families left at home for years at a time while their husbands went to sea would have been incredible.
    I just cannot get my head around that they were such tiny boats out in the open sea hunting whales – how they EVER came home again safely is amazing.
    I found the details of life in the 1800’s very interesting. Also the way the sailors had to make do with what they had on a years long sea voyage, the foods they ate, and their beliefs of how things should be was enlightening.
    The amount of research gone into the writing of this book is to be appreciated, as it draws the whole history of what happened together by merging the different reports from the whale hunters as to what actually happened in the 1820’s when the Essex was rammed and sunk.
    I found myself continually flicking back to the maps and photos in the book, to see where the men sailed, and to try and grasp how far those 2000 miles must have felt in a tiny damaged leaking boat with 7 men aboard..
    The true story is an amazing tale of survival of men pushed to their limits in a harsh and unforgiving sea. It tells what they have to do to survive. Tough and challenging decisions were made, and the writer describes this well.
    I am glad I have read this book, and will go and see the movie when it is released.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace for a very different book to read and review. I have learned a lot from it.

  18. don’t know how many of you remember moby dick a true classic, The The Heart Of The Sea is like a remake, but with a little more details with maps and photos to give you a more visual experience something that is missing in a lot of books, it give me a sense of the hardship they had to endure on their trip in a tiny damaged boat with only a few men on board (7) its hard to believe that men could survive those conditions and to be away from their family for years at a time.
    The Heart of the Sea is a book I would recommend to other readers it is well written, and very easy to follow at first I thought it would be hard to follow but it turned out to be quite the opposite.
    this is one book i would gladly share with my local library book club to enjoy as well

  19. In The Heart Of The Sea is a non-fiction book about an incredible, historic event that inspired the novel, Moby Dick, i.e. the downing of the Essex ship. The year was 1820 and whales were used to produce and supply oil to the world. But an unfortunate group of 20 men from Nantucket and other parts of the U.S. would meet their match. A huge sperm whale would ram their boat and the sailors were forced to endure an arduous and debilitating 90 plus day journey in the South Pacific Ocean in three leaky row boats.

    Nathaniel Philbrick is a writer who lives in Nantucket and is no stranger to sailing. As a result of this, he was able to fashion a richly-detailed account of this true story (and In The Heart Of The Sea actually won him a National Book Award). This story references two main accounts, that of first mate, Owen Chase and that of cabin boy, Thomas Nickerson. Philbrick’s prose holds nothing back and is often quite gruesome and ghastly, but it is all necessary in giving context to such a horrific tale.

    After their ship was struck by a large whale, the 20 remaining sailors would split up into three row boats. They could have set sail for some nearby islands in the South Pacific but they had been lead to believe that these places were inhabited by cannibals. The irony is that these castaways would eventually have to resort to such a treacherous act themselves. So instead, they exercised a series of grave errors of judgement, which lead them to sail almost 5000km against the currents and the winds towards South America.

    They were out in the elements and would wind up suffering from severe dehydration, horrible skin boils and starvation. But the survivor’s stories are a testament to human strength. In The Heart Of The Sea is all about human endurance, discipline and determination, because some of these men actually managed to survive, despite becoming sickly, human skeletons that were inches away from death.

    This book starts off a little slow and is dense but it does become a riveting and entertaining read, overall. There is a lot of drama and courage on display and it’s obvious that it was meticulously researched and lovingly put together by Philbrick. In The Heart Of The Sea sets the scene for a thriller in an unforgiving ocean where survival seems impossible, especially when the odds are stacked against you and you have to navigate through folklore, superstition and the high seas to boot. This is ultimately one amazing tale that should be compulsory reading by everyone.

  20. Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me this book to read.

    I have never read Moby Dick either Michelle so you are not alone there.
    This book is full of information related to whales and whaling and you do get to understand how hard life was on a whale boat.

    Two to three years is a long time to be away from your wife and children and considering you are only home a few months I’d think you would be rather lucky to have any at all.
    Then to realise the strength of the women left behind who have to carry on with life without their men for years at a time.
    The story is written as a kindly and as factual as it could but I found it awful to read about whaling it really was hard at times to keep going.
    Did it flow, well to me it did and it didn’t. You seem to be following a story and then it tends to drift off and makes it hard to keep up with what and where you are meant to be.
    This is not a book that I would go out and buy for myself or as a present for anyone (unless they were doing research on whaling).
    I did learn a lot about whaling and how hard life was and I am glad I pushed myself to read it all as there were many times I wanted to stop.

  21. In The Heart of The Sea was a heavy read. I didn’t enjoy reading it at all to start with.
    I have a history with the ocean and working on it so have a working knowledge of ships. I found this book a bit of a plod to start with. I am glad I did persevere with it.
    Nathaniel Philbrick has brilliantly researched the Whaling Industry and the attention to detail is amazing. It draws you in and you can actually picture yourself involved in many scenes he describes.
    I have a little understanding of the horrific events working on a Whaling Vessel, the hardships the crew endured and the tragedy of the numerous loss of ships and life that did occur. I had heard of the sinking of the Essex.
    Philbrick’s description of the crews hardship after the Essex was sunk was very detailed and the extremes they went through just to survive shows what hard men ( and boys ) these Whalers were.
    The comparison with other survivor stories of cannibalism were very hard hitting.
    I think the movie that has just been released will be enjoyable but this book is not an easy, relaxing read for a rainy afternoon but on saying that, I think In the Heart of The Sea will appeal to some readers who enjoy Maritime History, I know a lot more about the History of the Whaling Industry and Nantucket that I never knew.
    Thank you for the chance to read something totally different from the usual Book Clubs.

  22. I had no idea that the story of Moby Dick was based on a true story and I must admit that I have not read Moby Dick. I know that basics of the story and that was that.
    I love that “In the Heart of the Sea” was a true story as I often feel that truth is so much more interesting and mind blowing then a made up story. It was frustrating to me trying to get into this book as to start with there is a lot of back history and build up. This story is one that i would say is educational. It is not something that you should read if you are a after a feel good read or something light to escape into on a Sunday afternoon. I found at times I had to put the book down and walk away just to recharge my batteries. Im glad that Ive read it.
    This book is wonderful if you would like to gather some information on the topic of whaling. Brilliant if you love stories that will teach you things and give you information that you didnt know.
    Not one that I would be quick to jump back into for a reread but in time, perhaps 5 years or so im sure I will reread it as I often find that on second read throughs i tend to pick up things I missed the first time around.
    If you have a couple of weeks where you have down time and you dont have anything stressful going on in your life then perhaps give this book a go and see what you think.

  23. Thanks Beauty & Lace for the chance to read “In The Heart Of The Sea”. I did apply to read this book but wasn’t sure if I’d like it….the part that grabbed me was in the excerpt I read that it was blood-thirsty and violent, so I thought it may be OK to read. I made the right choice. This isn’t a book for the faint-hearted or the squeamish.
    The story is set in the 1820’s when a whaling ship named Essex left Nantucket with a crew of 20 men for a 3 year whale hunting journey….but 15 months into their sail, in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the Essex was rammed twice by a Sperm Whale, which sunk the ship….leaving the 20 man crew floating around in small boats for the next 93 days as they encounter every possible scenario you could think of on the water. This is amazingly a true story and the idea behind Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
    I was left in a state of mind-numbness after reading…the very descriptive writing when telling the story of the hunting and killing of whales and the torture of Sea Turtles and then the Cannibalism of their own crew to stay alive, had my stomach unsettled at times and I felt in despair.
    I don’t know anything about the whaling industry or the Essex…I’ve never read Moby Dick, so everything written about was new to me but I did enjoy having the history lesson ad I enjoyed the book…it wasn’t what I was expecting and I do hope now with the movie coming out, that they’ve followed the storyline of the book and haven’t embellished too much…as it is a true story and the movie doesn’t need anything else to male it appealing – the actual story/facts are enough.

  24. Thanks Beauty & Lace for the chance to read this great book .
    The book had a lot of drama and a great history lesson it was really interesting and very deep to read it is great to picture the story in your mind and really know how hard it was for them and their wives .Some bits I found hard to believe but very very riveting I cant wait for the movie hope they don’t take out all the yucky bits . Thankyou for the chance to tread this fantastic book I really enjoyed something different and true for a change

  25. I found it a bit of a hard read but once i got into it was easier to sit and read for more than 5 min photos was a bonus

  26. This tale of survival in recorded history has to be one of the most astonishing I think. Before I say any more, let me tell you that this story is not for people with weak stomachs.
    After the ship is disabled by an attacking sperm whale, the survivors find themselves on three open boats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean over 2,000 miles from their targeted landfall in South America. With luck, they will make it in 30 days. They soon find themselves in a stall as the winds fail to cooperate, except to provide severe storms that threaten to capsize the boats.
    Soon, all the food is encrusted with salt and everyone is suffering with severe dehydration. Then things start to get worse! I won’t go further, but you have an amazing story of survival ahead of you.
    Two of the few survivors of this terrible ordeal later committed their experiences to writing, which provide great resources for this well-researched book.
    At another level, the book is also extremely interesting because these experiences were important influences on Herman Melville’s writing of the American classic, Moby Dick. The book makes the connection, including how Melville came to learn the story.
    The ultimate irony is that the survivors went the wrong way. Those from Nantucket did not know about Tahiti and Hawaii, and chose not to go in either of those directions, either of which would have provided more rapid safety and comfort. The primary reason they chose not to go in these directions is because they feared running into cannibals. Soon the survivors were studying the remains of dead shipmates with hunger. And then it actually gets worse. Get ready for the trip of your life! Thank you Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to read and review In The Heart Of The Sea.

  27. I loved this book on so many levels. Firstly, its not a mindless read. You certainly need to pay attention and focus on the development, scene setting and method of writing. However, after the first chapter or so you get into the swing of it and like the great white whale are ‘hooked’!

    I am not a big historical reader but the creative detail used in this book is the second reason I loved it. It really set the scene and whilst some of the story was quite graphic it was in the character of the time and the place.

    I had read Moby Dick before and loved the story but this version of that story really brings it to life. The struggle of life onboard, the egos, the all or nothing attitude and the need to provide for your family are clearly explored in this deep and enriching book.

    For me ultimately, it was the character development that I loved the most. The struggles they faced not only with each other but with themselves was written and conveyed in a manner that you felt the struggle and understood their anguish.

    A great read but not for the light hearted!

  28. In The Heart Of The Sea is a beautiful book about Whaling and the struggles those experienced through this difficult time. Nathaniel Philbrick takes us back to a time when nothing but hardship and extremeties ruled those who experienced life out at sea. I had not read Moby Dick but now have experienced another view of this classic.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

  29. I read In the Heart of the Sea, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get into it. I took it on my honeymoon to read, and was so disappointed but thankyou for the opportunity to read this novel. Although I did learn that Moby Dick was based on a true story

  30. Heart of the Sea was unfortunately one of those books I just couldn’t get into. I am an avid reader but this one was a struggle for me – All is not lost though I passed this on to my mum who loved the story and said it was a fabulous read so my mission is to try again.

  31. Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick while well researched was a slow burn for me, the first few chapters being a real struggle. Perhaps in knowing the story of Moby Dick I was too eager to meet the whale who sunk the ship, The Essex.
    As expected though the action really heated up once the sailors met the whale and I found the story flowed and became a real page turner. I gained a lot of knowledge about the times, the sea, ships, cannibalism, and the barbaric practice of whaling. I’m glad I persevered, thanks for the opportunity.

  32. I absolutely loved the opportunity to read this book. I first fell in love with the storyline of Moby Dick while reading “Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer”. I agree with other reviewers that the book was quite hard to get into initially and did take me a few go’s. But I am glad that I persevered as even though it was a tough read with a lot of facts and information it really does give as accurate an account as possible of The Essex and gives you an appreciation of what whalers of the times went through.

    At times though the accounts were a bit hard reading with detailed descriptions of what the sailors went through.

    Again thank you for the opportunity to read the book!

  33. When I saw the opportunity to review this book I was extremely excited to be chosen. The movie had just been released and I was excited about reading it before I watched it.
    Then I started reading it….this was a very difficult book to understand and get into and I almost gave up multiple times. The only reason I continued to read was because of this review.
    I’m so glad I pushed through because it got really great towards the end. These books really interest me…this one very hard to read but I’m glad I finished it.

    Thank you for letting me read this and review.

  34. i was so glad when i was lucky enough to receive this as I wanted to see the movie,as i love whales.
    I found it a bit hard to get into at first and it drag on a bit in places, they the mateship and descriptions of the environment they were in was well written.Their survival after the whale hit was remarkable, they experienced so much hardship,it was hard not feel for them.
    I would recommend, push through it and you will get a reward read

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