I'm not sure about this book. I did enjoy it, and some of the writing is sublime. But a significant proportion of it is long winded and for a time when minority groups weren't really treated that well, there seems to be very little by way of any bigotry experienced by Una, giving it near progressive-liberalist fairy tale quality at times. On the other hand, it is set in a time when progressive ideas were percolating into the public consciousness.
I'm also not sure whether Naslund is giving Melville the bird, or trying to salvage his Ahab. It is true that she has taken a very few passages in Moby Dick about this character and fleshed a completely new one for this story, but she has also done the same for Ahab, and as a result he doesn't appear to so remote, unhinged and ruthless as he does in Moby Dick. I think if there were about 200 less pages, this might be easier to discern.
As it is, it is easy to get lost in a morass of very worthy writing. A few less pages and more directness in the characters' voices and the narrative may have given the story a much lighter feel in significant places. Unfortunately, as it is, I found it difficult to find the motivation to give this story the attention it probably warranted. While I as the reader must bear some responsibility for that, the writer also needs to accept their part in that.
So while I feel that the writing deserved four stars at times, at other times I felt like I was being overly generous giving it 3 stars; so 3 stars it is.