Thursday, June 30, 2011


No surprises as far as the ending in this book.  Yes, the Titanic still sinks.  However, the voice of Margaret Ann Brady brings several weeks in April of 1912 to life in a way that grabbed my attention, and I'll admit, even brought a few tears to my eyes at the end.

A twist of fate caused Margaret to be aboard the Titanic for its fateful voyage.  After her parents died, her brother left her to be raised by the nuns at an orphanage while he headed to America to find work and a future for the two of them.  Margaret always knew that she would someday find a way to leave England to join her brother, but she didn't realize her chance would involve a famous ocean liner.

Margaret is introduced to Mrs. Carstairs, a rich woman from the United States.  She is leaving England to return home and is looking for a travel companion.  Margaret is perfect for the job, and the job is perfect for her plan to reunite with her brother.  Plans are made and she soon finds herself in the first class quarters aboard the Titanic.

The job is easy.  Margaret must be ready to help Mrs. Carstairs dress, dine with her, and walk her tiny dog.  The rest of her time is spent exploring and enjoying the fabulous ship.  Margaret is fascinated with the elegant dining rooms, the library and writing lounge, and just watching the goings on around her.  An added benefit is a blossoming friendship with Robert, a cabin steward assigned to first class.  It's all like a dream come true.

The dream turns into a nightmare when Robert wakes Margaret in the early hours of April 15.  He urges her to put on her lifebelt and head to the lifeboats.  He emphasizes that it is not a drill but rather a serious situation. 

The events that follow have been recounted in books and movies, but Margaret's story will capture the hearts of young readers.  Torn between her duty to Mrs. Carstairs, orders from the men to load up the lifeboats, and her fondness for Robert, she nearly becomes one of those lost in the tragic accident. 

Author Ellen Emerson White makes her contribution to the Dear America series in this riveting account of one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century.  She makes history come alive even for those who are less than fond of historical fiction.

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