Quotes from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer

Sena Jeter Naslund ·  704 pages

Rating: (39.1K votes)


“If you meet a woman of whatever complexion who sails her life with strength and grace and assurance, talk to her! And what you will find is that there has been a suffering, that at some time she has left herself for hanging dead.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Great minds may have cold hearts. Form but no color. It is an incompleteness. And so they are afraid of any woman who both thinks and feels deeply.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Where we choose to be, where we choose to be--we have the power to determine that in our lives. We cannot reel time backward or forward, but we can take ourselves to the place that defines our being.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“That's the way it is in life. You let go of what is beautiful and unique. You pursue something new and don't even know that the wind of your own running is a thief.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Is it not the case that many a life journey starts out in the opposite direction to its destiny?”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer



“Pardon me, dear human self, capable of the most heinous degradation, capable of soaring.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“I turned from my window. Suddenly it seemed odd for my neighbors on both sides to have visitors while I had none. For the first time, I felt lonely at 'Sconset.
"Let's cook," Frannie said energetically. "We will smell so good that they'll all come running." She picked up a bowl, filled it with apples from the barrel, and immediately began to cut them up. I put water to boil, got out cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lard, flour, sugar, salt, saleratus, vinegar, and all the other things for apple pies. We both laughed happily. How easy it is, we thought, to make a decision, to implement a remedy, to act.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“That night, though I was weary with the day, I took to the roof again.... My fingertips rested lightly on the wooden rail. I could not know if stars were equal to each other, but if they were, then the dim ones must be far and farther away, and toward those reaches I hurled my soul.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“What, in nature," Kit asked, "is the most beautiful thing you've seen? Or the most terrible?"
"The Dismals," Giles answered promptly. "A beautiful aberration in the lay of the land--North Alabama. A section mysteriously lowered, strewn with boulders, ferny, mossy, cooler--the vegetation, they say, typical of Canada. There the creek runs clear, but all other Alabama rivers and waterways are muddy with sediment. I even like the name--the Dismals. An eternal place, disjunct with the climate, the time, and its location."
"You think being dismal is an attractive association with eternity?" I asked.
"It is a cool Eden in the Southern summer heat. What's yours, Una?"
"The Kentucky hills in spring. Layers of pink and white--redbud and dogwood."
"And you?" Giles asked Kit.
"Stars," he said. That was all.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Time is something of an enemy" she opined, "for us mortals. And yet I love it" - she fluttered her fingers in the air - "I love this moment, and it's a child of time.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer



“Her eyes were as green as the sea, and forever I forgave the sea for not appearing blue.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Of our pasts we seemed to know all we needed to know. Nothing was concealed, and though nothing was overtly revealed, all was known. In guilt and in forgiveness we counted ourselves equals, and always had. The sun himself envied us.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Do you think yourself a string too short to save? Do you think that you are lank and straight, a linear bit with no connection fore or aft? Fear not your insignificance. Nature has a drawer for you. Yes, nature garners all the string too short to save, and mice visit that drawer. Here’s nesting material! Yes, you will be interwoven, be it now or later.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Is beauty enhanced or adulterated by utility?

― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer



“Pardon me, dear human self, capable of the most heinous degradation, capable of soaring. Let”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“S IS THE SOUND of the sea. Her surge and suck, her spray and surf. Sometimes she seethes. She knows the sound of smooth. With her s, the sea marries the shore, and then there is scamper and slush in the sand. With curling s’s the sea rises to stroke the side of her superior, the sky, who loves and meets her in the s of spray, spawned in liquid and air.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Honesty, like any inclination, can become a ruling passion, a monomania almost.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“I spiraled slowly down the steps, the soft way a milkweed seed sometimes twirls to earth. I wanted time for any vague thought to come to mind that mind should want. No new ones came, but the pace seemed a meditative winding, and what I was winding was like yarn on an oblong skein, softly enfolding a quiet center that was myself.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“He prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer



“It was in her nature to love and to nurture; she would not leave those feelings within herself to fester and sour, but instead she chose someone who would receive her gifts gladly. She did not hold herself to be so special that only one special person could she find satisfactory.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Yet intact Ahab, back from his first voyage, once said of just such a changeable breeze, This contrast is the way of life itself. All playfully, he added, But were I God, then would every day be invariantly good. Then he asked me if he might be the god of my world.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Perhaps Vulnerability was a land that, for some people, could never be entirely traversed.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“What do you think of God,” I asked, “for testing the loyalty of Job?” “I think it is wrong for the strong to test the weak, though it is natural for the weak to test the strong.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“Do you know why sailors wear gold in their ears?” Uncle asked me. “It was the law, long ago, that a sailor had to have on his person enough gold to bury him should he wash ashore. So the seaside folk wouldn’t be out of pocket at the funeral expense.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer



“I opened my letter to Margaret by describing the scene—I always enjoy receiving a letter when the writer locates himself or herself in a definite place, and I like to know if there is a cup of tea at hand, or how the light is falling in the room or beyond the window. Such descriptions transcend the barriers of time and space and give reader and writer the illusion that they are together.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“there is a great debate in Kentucky, south of us, near Tennessee, between those who believe in free will and those who hold with predestination. I have always believed I was free.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


“She sat still, I thought, and yet she traveled. And when one stitches, the mind travels, not the way men do, with ax and oxen through the wilderness, but surely our traveling counted too, as motion. And I thought of the patience of the stitches. Writing a book, I thought, which men often do, but women only rarely, has the posture of sewing. One hand leads, and the other hand helps. And books, like quilts, are made, one word at a time, one stitch at a time.”
― Sena Jeter Naslund, quote from Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer


About the author

Sena Jeter Naslund
Born place: Birmingham, The United States
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