I’ve been interested in the Titanic for longer than I can remember. History is full of tragic stories, but the sinking of the Titanic is a particularly poignant one. Over 1500 men, women, and children were lost the night the ship hailed as being”unsinkable” struck an iceberg and sank. Of the passengers, the greatest loss of life was among the Third Class—76% of whom perished. 76% of the crew—including the Captain, Chief Officer, and First Officer—were lost, as well. Near enough to see the Titanic’s eight distress rockets was the Californian, commanded by Captain Stanley Lord, who could have come to their aid—but did not. Why did the Captain not issue the order to go, despite the darkness of the night sky, despite the ice field his own ship was surrounded by, and at least attempt to offer help? What really happened that night, and why?
These are the questions The Midnight Watch contemplates so beautifully, offering up a scenario of what might have happened that fateful night on the Californian. The story is told from three perspectives:
- Certain members of the Californian’s crew
- John Steadman—a journalist trying to discover the truth of the Californian’s inaction, and what members of its crew knew about it
- A Third Class family who died when the Titanic sank
Each viewpoint was compelling in its own way. Steadman’s frustration at being thwarted when he attempts to speak to anyone on the crew other than the Captain, as well as personal issues regarding his family and the pressure he’s under from the newspaper he works for to write about the tragedy is vividly written. Herbert Stone of the Californian is incredibly conflicted between his need to do what’s right, and his desire to have his Captain’s respect. The eleven members of the Sage family are on the Titanic, traveling to start a new life in Florida. Told through the eyes of nineteen year old Stella, we see what she and her family experienced after the Titanic begins to sink.
The Midnight Watch is one of the best novels about the Titanic I’ve ever read, and it’s the only book I’ve read (so far) that deals with the Californian’s part of the story, as well. It also re-ignited my curiosity about all things having to do with the Titanic. That’s why it’s taken me a bit longer than usual to write my review—I didn’t get started right away because I’ve been looking at Titanic websites. In my world, having read something that makes me want to gain more knowledge about a person, place, or event makes a book even better… and to have all this in a debut novel makes it absolutely phenomenal.
This is a fantastic read for Titanic history buffs… definitely a Book Worth Reading!
I won an advance copy of this book via Goodreads Giveaways and St. Martin’s Press.
Author: David Dyer
Title: The Midnight Watch
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: April 5, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press
Rating: ★★★★★ – BOOK WORTH READING