On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's go back to ... 1939
|Lake Union Press|
20 March 2018
My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
The story opens in Le Havre, in 1939, and as war starts to infiltrate into Europe, the luxury liner, the SS Manhattan, takes on passengers who are bound for New York, and a safer way of life. All of them have stories to tell and secrets to keep, some of which are revealed even before the ship heads out into the Atlantic.
The story focuses on several of the passengers, some are famous, like the composer, Igor Stravinsky who is fleeing Europe for reasons of his own, and also Rose Kennedy, the stern matriarch of the American Kennedy clan heads home to the United States, taking her younger children, whilst leaving her husband, Joseph, and many secrets, behind in London. Cousins Masha and Rachel Morgenstern are also bound for New York, they are almost penniless except for a hidden stash of gemstones, which they have smuggled out of Germany when they were forced to flee for their lives.
However, even aboard ship safety cannot be guaranteed as deep in the shadowy depths of the ocean a German U-boat stealthily stalks the Manhattan.
This clever mix of using people known to history, there's even a young Elizabeth Taylor on board with her parents, and putting them alongside fictional characters works well, and helps to place the story in a specific time frame. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, particularly Rose Kennedy whose formidable personality intimidated everyone she came into contact with on board ship.
The story evolves quite slowly and is perhaps more character focused than dramatic, however, the inclusion of the events on board the German U-boat are rather more daring and the deadly nature of their intent adds some darkness to the story.
The Ocean Liner is a fascinating snap shot of a particular moment in history and the author has done a commendable job of bringing this time alive in the imagination.
About the Author
Marius Gabriel served his author apprenticeship as a student at Newcastle University, where, to finance his postgraduate research, he wrote thirty-three steamy romances under the pseudonym Madeleine Kerr. Gabriel is the author of several historical novels, including the bestsellers The Designer, The Seventh Moon, The Original Sin, and the Redcliffe Sisters series: Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye and Take Me To Your Heart Again. Born in South Africa, he has lived and worked in many countries including Italy and Spain, and now divides his time between London and Cairo.
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