I mentioned it before but I’m going to repeat myself. I’m a Titanic nut. With the 100th anniversary looming just ahead like the fateful iceberg, I’m in my element. Books, TV miniseries, documentaries, newspaper and magazine articles, I can’t get enough.
When the galley for Lawson’s Ghosts of the Titanic arrived at the Library, I couldn’t wait to get home and start reading—I also love a good scary tale. Right after dinner, I propped up my pillow, settled under the covers and read straight through to the end. My husband was a bit miffed—you’d think by now, he’d have learned to sleep with the bedside light on—but I was thrilled. What a book, what a story! I was enthralled.
It’s a grabber. First there’s the Titanic story—more about that later—then there’s a really spooky ghost story, a coming of age story, a mystery, time travel and even a sports angle. That may seem like a lot but Lawson is able to tie all the elements together to make a modern, realistic plot with a strong, historical fiction backbone.
A particularly interesting facet of the book is the “Halifax connection.” When they think of the voyage of the Titanic I think most folks conjure images of the grand staircase, elegant passengers and/or the docks at Belfast. Lawson’s story begins at the end of the crossing after the ship has sunk off the coast of Nova Scotia and hundreds of dead bodies are being collected from the frigid water.
There’s a whole Canadian point of view that is seldom considered as a part of the tragedy. The entire world was stunned by the story of the “unsinkable” ship, the marvel of modern technology, going down. Afterwards, while reporters were interviewing the glamorous celebrities and other survivors in New York, in Halifax, they were doing the “mopping up.” This is where the ghost story begins, in the pitch black of the open ocean in a small boat surrounded by floating corpses.
How does Ms. Lawson sweep us into the 21st century while keeping our attention firmly rooted in the past? Masterfully. Ghosts of the Titanic has already won awards in Canada and is now destined to be remembered as a “Titanic classic” here in the US as well. In the meantime, I ‘m making plans to visit Halifax.
For more information and to hear an interview with the author, click below on Julie Lawson’s “Story behind the story” website.
Posted by: Eileen