My Thoughts: Stories that recount the tragedy of the RMS Titanic are usually not my cup of tea. In fact until the ABC/ITV film adaptation of earlier this year, I’d not see a movie depicting the events. It surprised me that I actually signed up to review this romantic tale on the high seas but given my propensity to “connect” with Thompson’s writing, a love of this era and curiosity to know how this scenario would play out, I hit the “submit” button. Here is how the story goes. Jacquie Abington has a dilemma. Wealthy and able to have whatever her heart desires, her future suddenly becomes a glaring picture of conformity. Her father has just shook hands with a wealthy business man whom her father plans to merge their name with through marriage and business. Unhappy with the way her future is shaping up, Jacquie becomes desperate to find a way to be with her true love, Peter, the family’s gardener. Knowing her husband would never approve the match prompts Jacquie’s mother to book passage for her daughter on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, hoping it will cure her daughter of any more romantic notions of Peter. Afraid of being forever separated from Peter, the two of them concoct a plan for Jacque to swap lives with Peter’s sister, Tessa. A poor farm girl who needs to be out of a bad situation, Peter sees this as his way of protecting his little sister, never realizing the consequences these choices could yield.
Goodness, gracious but I loved this novel. It was a typical Janice Thompson story – the sort of carefully, crafted signature writing we’ve come to expect from her, and yet every nuance was different, capturing an era that was refined. Gone were hilarious antics and crazy relatives and in its place was a well-crafted, beautiful story that invited us again into the gilded age of beautiful gowns, grand ballrooms and dizzying romances. Each change and distinction was written with the ease of a practiced author and though the time frame was too short to compel us into believing true love blossomed, it didn’t deter me from falling in love with a story that was both epic and tenderly heartbreaking. Two chapters in, I was swept into Jacquie and Tessa’s world and even humored by Tessa’s bumbling attempts to be a lady which I do feel was one of the minor failings in the story. Her personality sometimes felt too far down the scale of being the complete opposite of Jacquie’s polished, society lady. Obviously Tessa wouldn’t be refined but I think certain of her quirks should have been tapered.
Not being a scholar of the events surrounding the Titanic, I don’t pretend to be able to attest to the accuracy of the descriptions or horrors of the sinking but the beauty of the writing in describing the ship sounds authentic as does the descriptive costuming and character’s reactions. I loved reading about Tessa’s part in the story particularly since she is who we most root for in getting a happy ending though for once, Jacquie’s wealthy heiress is as likable as the more sympathetic heroine. Everything about the story cumulated into something that may have surface flaws, yes (what doesn’t!?) but was an example of grace under false impressions and guilty conscious’. It’s the skilled writing that keeps the story fresh but its beautiful flaws allows readers to relate.
In Summary: Fascinating story of trusts broken, fear and courage in tragedy, and the friendships forged in the midst of it all. First class reading!
Synopsis: When pampered Jacqueline Abington makes secret plans to elope with the family gardener, she concocts a scheme for another woman to take her place on the much-anticipated maiden voyage of the Titanic. From a poor corner of London, Tessa Bowen has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime—a ticket to sail to America aboard a famed vessel. But there’s a catch: she must assume another woman’s identity. For the first time in her life, Tessa stays in expensive quarters, dresses in luxurious gowns, and dines with prestigious people. Then a wealthy young American man takes an interest in her, and Tessa must struggle to keep up the ruse even as she finds herself falling for him. When tragedy strikes, the game is up, and Tessa’s life is forever changed. – from the publisher
With thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for reviewing purposes – my sincere apologies to Litfuse, the publisher and author for the delay in posting this review.