Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Midnight Watch

I have always been interested in the Titanic, learning a great deal about it when I taught a unit on disasters to a group of third graders while student teaching.  Nearly twenty years later I am hard pressed to find a student who doesn't have some interest in this piece of history and have a great selection of books on the topic.

The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and The Californian by David Dyer is a novel for adults that, although fiction, adds to the wealth of information already available on this infamous ship.

John Steadman, a reporter, tells part of this story from his perspective as he hears of the Titanic disaster, first not knowing the ship sunk, and then going to Boston to be there when the bodies that had been recovered arrived.  (Steadman has covered other tragedies in the past including the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed many young women). As he learns more of what happened he is convinced that there is something not right with the account given by The Californian. He investigates further, ignoring the directives of his boss, certain there is something that is being covered up.

Although Steadman is fictionalized, many of the other characters are not, as Dyer recreates what may have happened on The Californian on the night of April 14, 1912.  The Titanic sent off eight rockets signalling their distress and Stone, the second officer on The Californian informs the captain, yet Captain Lord does nothing, effectively dooming the Titanic passengers. 

Dyer's novel investigates the role of Captain Lord and Stone and others that were aboard the Californian and did not come to the aid of the Titanic as well as one man's quest to get to the bottom of the deaths of 1500 passengers.

There's already been so much written about the Titanic, yet this novel is a great addition to the literature already out there, and provides information about a part of this disaster that isn't often talked about.

No comments: