The Oceans and the Stars: A Sea Story, A War Story, A Love Story, by Mark Helprin, The Overlook Press (October 3, 2023), Kindle and Hardcover available for pre-order.
All of Mark Helprin’s novels are on my shelf. It’s an understatement to say that, as a former Navy man and fan of his work, I’m very much looking forward to this book–and inspired by a 75-year-old author who is still at work.
From the Publisher
“Mark Helprin, the #1 New York Times, best-selling author of Winter’s Tale and A Soldier of the Great War, returns with a fast-paced, beautifully written novel about the majesty of the sea; a life dedicated to duty, honor, and country; and the gift of falling in love.
“A Navy captain near the end of a decorated career, Stephen Rensselaer is disciplined, intelligent, and determined always to do what’s right. In defending the development of a new variant of naval ship, he makes an enemy of the President of the United States, who assigns him to command the doomed line’s only prototype––Athena, Patrol Coastal 15––with the intent to humiliate a man who should have been an admiral.
“Rather than resign, Rensselaer takes the new assignment in stride, and while supervising Athena’s fitting out in New Orleans, encounters a brilliant lawyer, Katy Farrar, with whom he falls in last-chance love. After failed marriages for both, this is a completely unexpected and exhilarating last chance. Soon thereafter, he is deployed on a mission that subjects his integrity, morality, and skill to the ultimate test, and ensures that Athena will live forever in the annals of the Navy.
“As in the Odyssey, Katy is the force that keeps him alive and the beacon that lights the way home through seven battles, mutiny, and court martial. In classic literary form, an enthralling new novel that extolls the virtues of living by the laws of conscience, decency, and sacrifice, The Oceans and the Stars is nothing short of a masterpiece.”
From the Author’s Website
“Mark Helprin belongs to no literary school, movement, tendency, or trend. As many have observed, and as Time Magazine has phrased it, “He lights his own way.” His three collections of short stories (A Dove of the East and Other Stories, Ellis Island and Other Stories, and The Pacific and Other Stories), seven novels (Refiner’s Fire, Winter’s Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, Memoir From Antproof Case, Freddy and Fredericka, In Sunlight and in Shadow, and Paris in the Present Tense), and three children’s books (Swan Lake, A City in Winter, and The Veil of Snows, all illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg), speak eloquently.”
Helprin’s plots are solid and his writing is among the most beautiful on the planet. Once the book is released, I’ll try to add an editorial review.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Vietnam War novel “At Sea.” The author’s cover photo is of the USS Ranger (CVA-61).