Sunday, September 13, 2015

Titanic Survivor


Rating: 4 Stars


In the past I have often had an issue with a book presenting itself as one thing, then becoming something entirely else. This is one case where I am utterly okay with that scenario. I was expecting another recounting solely of Titanic sinking, and was much looking forward to it. Pretty much all the accounts we have of survivors come from passengers, yet here finally was an account of the sinking from someone who worked on the ship. Yet, there are only three chapters actually devoted to the sinking, but I could not put it down. What a remarkable and adventurous life this woman had! And it makes it all the more remarkable in that her travels occurred in a time when travel was not easy. 

Violet was born in Argentina, then moved with her mother and surviving siblings after their father's untimely death. Violet writes of these early events with some detachment, though she does give more space to her father's death than that of the siblings who died young - three, if I recall correctly. These events are reported on simply as, the baby died, for example. Perhaps it is the difference in time periods, but it just seems so detached.

After moving home to England, Violet and her younger sister Eileen are educated in a convent, a place Violet clearly loved very much. It must have been so difficult for her to leave this place and her dear sister when it became necessary for her to find a job to support the family. The majority of the memoir then covers Violet's life at sea and all he adventure and danger she found on her many voyages. Titanic is only a small piece of this woman's remarkable life and the book is well worth the read. In fact, I read it in only a few hours total.

The one thing I could do without is the editor's annoying and often useless commentary. I found it disrespectful that he would contradict Violet, for example when she talked about the moon being out the night Titanic sank. As he was merely the editor, and not the author, I was not reading this to get his opinion on what Violet recalled from her life at sea. I was reading it in order to understand and learn about her experiences. I quit reading his "contributions" pretty early on, as they did not add anything of value to an already interesting manuscript.

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