Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Shadow of the Titanic & The Dressmaker

“The sound of the screaming was the worst thing, they said… the awful noise of fellow passengers calling out into the dark night was the one thing they could never forget.” So begins a fascinating new book, Shadow of the Titanic: the extraordinary stories of those who survived, by Andrew Wilson. April 14th marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. That there were not enough lifeboats, and many were not full are well known facts. Prejudice, economic status, cowardice and heroism all played a role in determining who lived and who died.

Another new book, The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is a novel based on the events of that fateful night and its aftermath. In this novel, Tess, a young, poor, aspiring dressmaker, is hired at the dock, to accompany the famous dress designer, Lady Duff Gordon. Tess barely escapes in one of the last lifeboats. The aftermath of the tragedy is the setting for most of the book. The events of the inquiry unfold as Tess picks up the pieces and begins her new life in her new country. The novel is impeccably researched and many of its characters were real people, although Tess was not.

These books have much in common and I suggest reading them both.

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