Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Oceans and the Stars

The Oceans and the Stars: A Sea Story, A War Story, A Love Story by Mark Helprin
10/3/23; 512 pages
The Overlook Press

The Oceans and the Stars: A Sea Story, A War Story, A Love Story by Mark Helprin is a very highly recommended literary epic saga that surely reflects the whole title.

Navy Captain Stephen Rensselaer corrects and talks back to the president of the United States, who retaliates to his truth-telling by trying to humiliate him. He assigns Rensselaer to command the Athena, with the intent to humiliate a man who should have been an admiral. While supervising Athena’s fitting out in New Orleans, Rensselaer meets and falls in love with Katy Farrar. It is the love of a lifetime. Soon after this, he is deployed to the Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa. Rensselaer is ultimately faced with a decision to follow his conscience and keep his integrity intact or disobey an immoral order and faces the consequences of his decision.

Absolutely excellent writing, strongly developed, fully realized characters, and a compelling, detailed, action-packed plot are featured throughout this amazing epic. Using a classic literary form, The Oceans and the Stars commends the virtues of living a life where following your conscience is the obvious choice, despite the consequences. The narrative also demonstrates how using disciplined, intelligent actions may result in sacrifices.

As a character, Rensselaer comes to life in this novel. Readers will know and want the best for him while despairing over the choices placed before him and the fortitude he displays when acting upon his principles.

Those who love stories about the sea, ships, the military, and battles will relish the details and action Helprin includes. Some of the details are brutal, but there are also moments of bravery and sacrifice displayed even during the darkest moments.

This is a perfect choice for those who enjoy literary fiction, action/adventure thrillers (especially those set at sea), and love stories involving the one left at home.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of The Overlook Press via NetGalley.

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