I’ve always been fascinated by the sinking of the Titanic and this year is the 102nd anniversary of the ship striking the iceberg and foundering. Over at the USA Today Happily Ever After blog today I’m talking about why I believe the sinking has captured the public’s interest for so long and also recommending some newer books about the tragedy, both fiction and nonfiction.
One in particular, “The Girl Who Came Home” by Hazel Gaynor, is a fictionalized account of a group of Third Class passengers from the same small town in Ireland, which I highly recommend. I’ve never seen the Titanic Third Class experience brought to vividly to life as Ms. Gaynor achieves in her novel.
A nonfiction book I read a long time ago was “Titanic Survivor” by Violet Jessop, a stewardess on the ship, who survived. She was often referred to as Miss Unsinkable because not only did she make it through the Titanic disaster, she had also been on board the Olympic during its collision with another vessel in 1911 (although either ship sank). And Ms. Jessop was working for the British Red Cross on the Britannic in 1916 during World War I when that ship was either attacked by a submarine or struck a mine (stories vary) and sank. Again, she survived, living to be 83.
I remember her book was very matter of fact about all the adventures she had, including Titanic, and gave a fascinating picture of being a working woman on the great cruise ships in a bygone era. To illustrate the calm way in which she approached her life’s adventures, when the Britannic sank, she took time to grab her toothbrush because, she’s quoted as saying, that was the thing she missed right after Titanic sank! When Britanic foundered, Ms. Jessop had gotten into a lifeboat, which she then had to abandon because the ship’s propeller was threatening to slice the boat in half. Suffering a blow to the head as she was sucked under the water, Violet’s thick hair provided cushioning to save her from serious injury. Eventually another lifeboat picked her up.
Apparently very modest as well as matter of fact, prior to her death, Violet told a friend of hers about a phone call she’d received late on a stormy evening, where a voice asked if she’d saved a baby’s life on the Titanic, to which she replied she had. The person on the other end of the line said they were that baby, laughed and hung up! The friend felt this was probably a prank call, and Violet informed them she actually had saved a baby, on Lifeboat No. 16, but had never revealed that fact to anyone before.
Violet’s Titanic experiences have been touched upon in most of the movies about the sinking, particularly any scene where Thomas Andrews, the shipbuilder, tells a young stewardess to put on her lifebelt to set a good example for the passengers.
I hope you’ll check out my post over at USA Today/HEA for some more book recommendations!
And if you enjoy science fiction adventure, my Wreck of the Nebula Dream is a loose retelling of the Titanic sinking, set in the far future aboard a luxury spaceliner on its maiden voyage. An SFR Galaxy Award and Laurel Wreath winner…
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
Audiobook, narrated by Actor Michael Riffle – Available Now at Amazon and iTunes