“And it all began with those little shoes…,” (CONTAINS SPOILERS.)
In a saga spanning 47 years, we are brought the story of two people meeting on the doomed liner, Titanic: May, a young woman with a husband and baby, and Celeste; a woman trapped by her marriage to a rubber magnate. They bond over the years and support each other through the trials and tribulations of life.
There have been so many adaptations concerning Titanic. The most obvious one being the 1997 movie starring Leo di Caprio and Kate Winslet (SPOILER – THE SHIP SINKS!) and when I read this book, I was either expecting a ficticious memoir of the life of Captain Smith’s daughter, Helen, or a cosy little story where two women meet on the liner and walk away from it happy as Larry (whoever Larry is!) I was wrong on both counts.
The story doesn’t just cover the Titanic disaster. It covers the journey made by several other major characters in the story. Not just May and Celeste, but also Angelo; an Italian whose wife and baby girl were lost in the disaster and who is haunted by the discovery of some lace shoes made by his wife for the baby.
We are led through the intervening 47 years. We see births, deaths and weddings. Pain, sadness and joy. Through the 47 years that the book takes place in, it is easy to see the way that the world makes a transition from the pre-war days of Titanic through to the modern era of the 1950s when no such distinctions existed. Perhaps we were all the better for it?
I actually expected the sort of chick-lit story with simple characters and a spineless hero with weak romantic idealogies. I was wrong on that count as well. It doesn’t just have one hero, it has many. The book also sees its fair share of death, as in any saga worth reading. Some of the death scenes were grisly to read but well-written all the same.
I myself am trying to write a saga like this one (its called Gone but Not Forgotten and will cover about 100 years instead of just 47 years.) and it shows how you can cover periods of time without missing out on any facts that will make the story meaty, well thought out and cleverly written.