Title: The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian
Author: David Dyer
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: April 5, 2016
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "As the Titanic
and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean after striking an
iceberg late in the evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on.
Second Officer Herbert Stone, in charge of the midnight watch on the SS Californian sitting idly a few miles north, saw the distress rockets that the Titanic
fired. He alerted the captain, Stanley Lord, who was sleeping in the
chartroom below, but Lord did not come to the bridge. Eight rockets were
fired during the dark hours of the midnight watch, and eight rockets
were ignored. The next morning, the Titanic was at the bottom
of the sea and more than 1,500 people were dead. When they learned of
the extent of the tragedy, Lord and Stone did everything they could to
hide their role in the disaster, but pursued by newspapermen, lawyers,
and political leaders in America and England, their terrible secret was
eventually revealed. The Midnight Watch is a fictional telling of what may have occurred that night on the SS Californian, and the resulting desperation of Officer Stone and Captain Lord in the aftermath of their inaction."
My Two Cents:
The sinking of the Titanic still reigns as one of the greatest transportation disasters in history. It ignites the imagination into thinking about if things could have been different. Could the ship have been saved? More importantly, could more people have been saved? One ship, The Californian, saw the flares from Titanic during the midnight watch but the captain chose to ignore them. When he is eventually found out, the captain and many others are pursued by the media. One of them is Dyer's fictional newspaper man who will stop at nothing to get the story.
Being that I was a teenaged girl when the Titanic movie came out, I was obsessed with the disaster (I read every book I could get my hands on at the library!!!) and had heard about the Californian before. It's still such a strange story. I found it so hard to believe the negligence of not trying to figure out what was wrong and not coming to the aid of the Titanic. We do get to understand a little bit behind what made the staff of the Californian not take action. It certainly doesn't excuse the inaction but I loved seeing what made these men tick, even if it was a fictional account.
The story-line was good. I thought that the choice to tell the story through one of the newspapermen eagerly pursuing the story was a good one. It was interesting to see the journalism and tactics that journalists used during that time. Some parts of the book were a bit slow and shuffled a bit. Overall, this was a very interesting perspective on a historical event that continues to haunt to this day!