Titanic means to be of enormous size, strength and power. To be gigantic. Certainly the ship lived up to that name, not just in its physical size but in the size of the errors that are wrapped up in its history. I think this must be why authors rarely tackle this subject matter – so much information already exists in our collective consciousness that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to truly tell us something new about this particular time and place. I applaud Ms. Humphrey for tackling such a subject matter in this romance, even if the execution left something to be desired.
The first time Elizabeth Shallcross met her new employer, he snubbed her and seemed to embody everything she hated about the English class system. When he asks her to work as governess for him on his voyage to America, she is at first reluctant but agrees to the short term position once she meets his charming daughter Kathleen. As she gets to know her employer she realizes that he is not the snob she thought him to be. Can she fall for a man so clearly out of her class? More importantly, will he be able to look beyond her station and see her for who she truly is?
Richard Graham is fascinated by the beautiful but prickly Elizabeth. But does she see him for who he truly is? Or just as a means to move up in society? And what of Harry Palmer, the charming second class passenger who seems to be interested in furthering his acquaintance with the lovely Elizabeth? Richard has so much going on in moving his daughter to America and starting up a new enterprise there, does he truly have time for romance – especially one that involves a third party?
The most positive thing about this book was the location. The Titanic is very much a character in the book and descriptions are given of various areas throughout. I especially loved Kathleen’s interest in the “elebators”. The description of how different passengers boarded at different stops, such as Cherbourg, was fascinating. It is very clear the author did her research before sitting down to write and having that history skillfully interspersed throughout the novel was a treat.
Less of a treat were the class discussions which punctuated the book. Yes, England does indeed have a more rigid class structure than America. Yes, it was indeed even worse in this time period. I did however, find it ironic that Elizabeth went on and on about how America accepted self-made people far better than England when Molly Brown (a fellow passenger) went to Europe because of how unwelcoming her rich American neighbors were. I am not certain if that was historical fact or just legend, but still felt that the author should have given some thought to that before preaching so much on that particular matter.
Road romances, as this is, can be especially tricky because there is so little time to work with. While most romance novels move fast, they involve more than just a few days of intense courtship. For such love stories to work, like Rose and Jack’s did in the film version Titanic, the attraction and preceding courtship must be fiery and intense. Unfortunately, that was not the case here. Elizabeth and Richard just didn’t have that fire between them that makes you understand why their love would consume them so quickly. While they had spent time together before the journey, in the name of making Kathleen comfortable with Elizabeth, even that time wouldn’t explain how they fell in love. I didn’t buy the romance here, and in such a short book, the romance was what it was mostly about.
If you love the whole history of Titanic and are interested in spending some time on board, this novel might just be for you.Otherwise, I would have to recommend giving it a pass.