Sunday, March 25, 2012

Titantic Tales

With all the talk about the upcoming Titanic 100th anniversary, I looked up how many fictional books that we have in the Halifax Public Library system on the subject. I was amazed to see the number of novels already in our catalogue with the publishing date in 2012! I will concentrate on a few of these titles, even though I have not read any of them, yet!

The Company of the Dead (M) by David J Kowalski is a quintessential"what if" time travel book. Dr. Jonathan Wells discovers a time machine by accident and he decides that if he can prevent the Titanic from sinking, he will change history for the better. But we all know that changing history rarely makes it better. And in this case, it makes it a whole lot worse. The world of 2012 has Germany as the biggest power in a world of shady empires seeking world domination. Japan is the second superpower and has power over New York City. The US is divided between North and South. All powers are ready to drop the bomb to win in this future. Publishers’ Weekly states "Time travel, airships. the Titanic, Roswell....Kowalski builds a decidedly original creature that blends military science fiction, conspiracy theory, alternative history and even a dash of romance." By the way, I was very impressed with the website for this book:

What sets The Dressmaker (M) by Kate Alcott apart from all the other Titanic novels is that instead of focusing on the actual voyage of the ship it tells about the aftermath. While I do not like (nor read) romance novels, I might be tempted to give this novel a try. It has few days on the Titanic, the sinking and rescue, the following legal hearings, which include class divisions, suffragists and a love triangle. Tess is a young woman who aspires to become a seamstress. She is hired by Lady Lucille Duff Gordon (a real life famous designer) to be her maid aboard the Titanic. Her sewing skills are not the only thing that is discovered. She catches the eye of not one, but two men. Like I said, reading about the aftermath of this tragedy is what appeals to me about this novel and perhaps may also appeal to you dear reader.

Newfoundland author Paul Butler has written several critically acclaimed novels. His work has appeared on a Canada Reads contest, the Relit Awards longlist for three years running, and he is an award winner of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award four times. His latest work, Titanic Ashes (M) may win him another one. Titanic Ashes takes place in 1925, thirteen years after the sinking of the Titanic. Butler focuses this short novel on the psychological aftermath that may have haunted the survivors of ths disaster. A real person, White Star Lines Chairman and Managing Director J. Bruce Ismay, is treated to a fictional account of his life. Ismay was the person responsible for reducing the number of lifeboats from 48 to 16 upon the ship. And he was one of the few men who were able to board the lifeboats and survive the tragedy. The press later called him "the Coward of the Titanic" In Butler’s novel, Ismay is having dinner with his daughter in a London restaurant. There he encounter Miranda Grimsden, another survivor of the shipwreck. Simmering emotions abound as the characters take a backwards journey to that fateful night. Please note that author Paul Butler will be reading from Titanic Ashes at the Cole Harbour Library on April 25th at 7 p.m.

The Halifax Public Libraries are offering a number of programs to commemorate Halifax's role following the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago. On our website you can find links to reference information, stories, images and places. To learn more about the upcoming programs, you can either visit your local branch, view our Library Guide (in both print or electronic form) or visit the above website.

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