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A literary adventure set in New England Janice Clark's gothic debut chronicles one hundred years of a once prosperous seafaring dynastyMoses 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 member a young girl left to live in the broken down ancestral mansion that at one time had glowed golden with 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 beauty but who bring ill luck a sinking island a Circe like woman who spends her life in a cave luring people and incest You d think this is enough to make a cracker of a book It s not It s just an extremely wordy and tedious book that chronicles the fate of a family I d rather they were dead and gone than the whales It s true that it s a glorification of a way of life that I cannot sympathize with even if it didn t have incest in it The well being of a family profiting on the slaughter of countless whales even if this is historical fiction isn t something I feel keenly about Add to that wholly unlikable characters a main character whose main uality seems to be collating and narrating the facts of her family without giving it any color of her own a messy mixture of myths and fantasies and you have a pointless book that took me ages to get through It really only took me two days but it felt like an eternity Every single element in it is normally exactly what I would swallow up without uestion Even the whale killing which I don t agree with I can take in a well written story But this book wasn t for me 2 stars

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The Rathbones

Igation through his collection of moldering books But when a strange violent visitor turns up one night on the widow's walk Mercy and Mordecai are forced to flee the house and set sail on a journey that will bring them deep into the haunted history of the Rathbone familyInspired by The Odyssey and infused with beautifully detailed descriptions of the realities of coastal and ship life reminiscent of Moby Dick Janice Clark's magnificent debut is a spellbinding literary adventure I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads I really wanted to like it but I couldn t find anything to care about in the characters or the story The mix of history and fantasy just didn t work It seemed lifeless and contrived Having said that I know I m a minority opinion so it could be your cup of tea

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Poils of the huntMercy fifteen years old is the diminutive scion of the Rathbone clan Her father the last in the dynasty of New England whalers has been lost at sea for seven years ever since the last sperm whale was seen off the coast of Naiwayonk Connecticut Mercy's memories of her father and of the time before he left grow dimmer each day and she spends most of her time in the attic hideaway of her reclusive Uncle Mordecai who teaches her the secrets of Greek history and nav The night I finished reading The Rathbones I dreamed of water and ruin I woke up this morning and had to remind myself that I m in Kansas not near the ocean and nowhere in the vicinity of a ship or a widow s walk Imagery of water weirdness and whales flows through every page of The Rathbones Janice Clark s art and design background makes it easy to visualize every detail in this weathered and somewhat scary world by the Atlantic She is excellent at describing fabrics clothing architecture environment furnishings I felt brined and excited to touch the ropes the anchors the sunbeaten boards of the deck Clark is also gifted in important details like the characters names Mercy Mordecai Verity Hepzibah Amaziah Euphemia and in doing so she makes sure the reader is submerged in this saltwatery New England seacoast These are the strengths of the book Motivation empathy laws of physics these are the weaknesses of the book Although it s written in first person mostly I wasn t able to get inside Mercy s head at all She s detached robotic and uite hard to empathize with She is being chased through much of the book and although she is on the run for months doesn t seem to care At one point she has just been yelled at told to leave and is being assaulted with heavy objects thrown at her She runs through the hall briefly to escape then slips into the library to make commentary on the shape and content of the books there She narrates her tale with a neutral glassy eye making no emotional commentary even as she watches her mother die while having sexual intercourse with her father who then repeatedly rams himself into the lifeless body awkward Mercy is the heroine of the tale but not easy to relate to or to like I had a hard time getting through certain parts of the book because I never got to see her as human so therefore I didn t really care what happened to her Although I felt myself wholly engaged in the physical sights and textures of this world I had a hard time figuring out its actual rules of physics Mercy s crows could pick her up and fly her places but she hides in a trunk with them and crushes and kills one even though we are told repeatedly how tiny and light she is there s no suawking no show of strength from this bird A wooden oar is tossed onto a rock and shatters While a rowboat is sinking a man uses a powdery substance to plug the hole The scholar tries to tie his long hair back and accidentally knots himself to a ship s rigging Mercy knows anatomy so well that she can assemble a human skeleton in the dark who is only missing one bone the left ring finger I struggled with cartoons like these I loved the ambition of this novel and the promise of an epic adventure centering on a brave young girl I would recommend it for a second reading and I might go back and do that because it was hard to keep the plot straight for me this first time around Although it wasn t perfect I enjoyed my time in the islands reading waterlogged ledgers and feeling the spray of great whales swimming below the surface


10 thoughts on “The Rathbones

  1. says:

    This may have been the weirdest book I have ever read And I've read a lot of really weird booksSome topics covered in this book whaling basic carpentry pickling techniues sperm whale anatomy inbreeding wife swapping kidnapping polygamyIt's j

  2. says:

    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 b

  3. says:

    From The Millions articleThe 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 Maruezwith Charles Addams doing the set design and The Decembrists supplying the chanteys Initially the stor

  4. says:

    2 stars Meh Just okHave 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

  5. says:

    The night I finished reading The Rathbones I dreamed of water and ruin I woke up this morning and had to remind myself that I'm in Kansas not near the ocean and nowhere in the vicinity of a ship or a widow's walk Imagery of water weirdness and whales flows through every page of The Rathbones Janice Clark's art and design background makes it easy to visualize every detail in this weathered and somewhat scary

  6. says:

    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

  7. says:

    Such a great read The Rathbone's is an unusual and uniue 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 esue At

  8. says:

    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

  9. says:

    I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads I really wanted to like it but I couldn't find anything to care about in the characters or the story The mix of history and fantasy just didn't work It seemed lifeless and contrived Havin

  10. says:

    After completing this book I felt I had just stepped off that Mr Toad ride at Disneyland Funky and freaky Gothic and nautical Suirmy and psychedelic Hit me with your rhythm stickUsing the travels of Odysseus as her broomst

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