Novelist, poet, and biographer Parini (The Last Station) drops in on Herman Melville via Melville’s wife, Lizzie, in this solid if sometimes slow nod to one of literature’s greats. Twenty years into their marriage, Lizzie’s faith in H.M.’s writing career has dimmed, and she has become a “captive” to her unpredictable husband, whose “improbable highs and lows” rock their marriage and family. Intertwined with Lizzie’s heartfelt recollections is a straightforward third-person narration recounting H.M.’s adventures as a merchant seaman, his time on whaling vessels and schooners, and the daring jumping of ship to commune with cannibals in Tahiti. H.M.’s rise to literary greatness and subsequent disillusionment (notably the poor critical reception Moby Dick garnered) are leavened with cameos by Charles Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Parini’s creative reanimation of Melville injects humanity into a tormented soul whose bright, promising early days peaked dramatically before curdling into a morass of dejection. Melville’s adventures make for good reading, and even if Lizzie’s passages aren’t the most dynamic, Parini manages a generous and appreciative assessment.