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Early 20th Century Historical Fiction – 2014


I’m back with a few current and upcoming releases that will appeal to lovers of early 20th century history and historical fiction! The centenary of WWI has heralded a good-sized portion of books set during this period.

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Welcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

buy from: Indiebound | Powell’s | B & N | Amazon

The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn

The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn

Within weeks letters would be burned, pages torn. Promises would be broken and hearts betrayed. But for now the countryside languished, golden and fading…

Cecily Chadwick is idling away the long, hot summer of 1911 when a mysterious countess moves into the large, deserted country house on the edge of her sleepy English village. Rumors abound about the countess’s many husbands and lovers, her opulent wealth, and the tragedies that have marked her life. As Cecily gets to know her, she becomes fascinated by the remarkable woman—riveted by her tales of life on the Continent, and of the famous people she once knew. But the countess is clearly troubled by her memories, and by ruinous secrets that haunt her…

Staying with the countess is a successful novelist and dear friend who has been summoned to write the countess’s memoirs. For aspiring writer Cecily, the novelist’s presence only adds to the intrigue of the house. But it is the countess’s grandson, Jack, who draws Cecily further into the tangled web of the countess’s past, and sweeps her into an uncertain future…

buy from: B & N | Powell’s | Amazon | Indiebound

The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston

 The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston

From Paula Brackston, the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch, comes a magical tale that is as dark as it is enchanting. Set in high society Edwardian England, a young witch faces the choice between love and loyalty to her coven…

“The dead are seldom silent. All that is required for them to be heard is that someone be willing to listen. I have been listening to the dead all my life.”

Lady Lilith Montgomery is the daughter of the sixth Duke of Radnor. She is one of the most beautiful young women in London and engaged to the city’s most eligible bachelor. She is also a witch.

When her father dies, her hapless brother Freddie takes on his title. But it is Lilith, instructed in the art of necromancy, who inherits their father’s role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. And it is Lilith who must face the threat of the Sentinels, a powerful group of sorcerers intent on reclaiming the Elixir from the coven’s guardianship for their own dark purposes. Lilith knows the Lazarus creed: secrecy and silence. To abandon either would put both the coven and all she holds dear in grave danger. She has spent her life honoring it, right down to her engagement to her childhood friend and fellow witch, Viscount Louis Harcourt.

Until the day she meets Bram, a talented artist who is neither a witch nor a member of her class. With him, she must not be secret and silent. Despite her loyalty to the coven and duty to her family, Lilith cannot keep her life as a witch hidden from the man she loves.

To tell him will risk everything.

buy from: Powell’s | Indiebound | Amazon | B & N

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?

buy from: B & N | Amazon | Powell’s | Indiebound

A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith

The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. In this emotionally charged, brilliantly realized novel, April Smith breathes life into a unique moment in American history, imagining the experience of five of these women.

They are strangers at the start, but their lives will become inextricably intertwined, altered in indelible ways. These very different Gold Star Mothers travel to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to say final good-byes to their sons and come together along the way to face the unexpected: a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed.

None of these pilgrims will be as affected as Cora Blake, who has lived almost her entire life in a small fishing village off the coast of Maine, caring for her late sister’s three daughters, hoping to fill the void left by the death of her son, Sammy, who was killed on a scouting mission during the final days of the war. Cora believes she is managing as well as can be expected in the midst of the Depression, but nothing has prepared her for what lies ahead on this unpredictable journey, including an extraordinary encounter with an expatriate American journalist, Griffin Reed, who was wounded in the trenches and hides behind a metal mask, one of hundreds of “tin noses” who became symbols of the war.

With expert storytelling, memorable characters, and beautiful prose, April Smith gives us a timeless story, by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, set against a footnote of history––little known, yet unforgettable.

buy from: Indiebound | B & N | Amazon | Powell’s

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale.

Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.

Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate détente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel’s shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own.

As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad . . . and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future––and the love––she wants most.

buy from: Powell’s | Amazon | Indiebound | B & N

Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

“Without sin, can we know beauty? Can we fully appreciate the summer without the winter? No, I am glad to suffer so I can feel the fullness of our time in the light.”

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future.…

That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will.…

Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.

Amazon | Powell’s | B & N | Indiebound

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore

The year is 1911. And at The Manor, nothing is as it seems . . .

Lady Charlotte Edmonds: Beautiful, wealthy, and sheltered, Charlotte feels suffocated by the strictures of upper-crust society. She longs to see the world beyond The Manor, to seek out high adventure. And most of all, romance.

Janie Seward: Fiery, hardworking, and clever, Janie knows she can be more than just a kitchen maid. But she isn’t sure she possesses the courage — or the means — to break free and follow her passions.

Both Charlotte and Janie are ready for change. As their paths overlap in the gilded hallways and dark corridors of The Manor, rules are broken and secrets are revealed. Secrets that will alter the course of their lives. . . forever.

buy from: Indiebound | B & N | Powell’s | Amazon

Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning

 Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning

Fans of Downton Abbey will adore this brand-new Edwardian-period romance series set at the grand estate of Thornbrook Park, seat of the Earl of Averford.

Disowned for marrying beneath her, Eve Kendal returns to England destitute after her husband’s death and the mysterious disappearance of their savings. Her childhood friend, the Countess of Averford, takes her in, and sparks fly between Eve and the Earl’s brother. But Captain Marcus Thorne has his own demons to face, and as they begin a steamy affair, secrets from the past threaten the whole estate…

buy from: B & N | Indiebound | Amazon | Powell’s

City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

deanna raybourn city of jasmine

Set against the lush, exotic European colonial outposts of the 1920s, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn delivers the captivating tale of one woman who embarks upon a journey to see the world—and ends up finding intrigue, danger and a love beyond all reason.

Famed aviatrix Evangeline Starke never expected to see her husband, adventurer Gabriel Starke, ever again. They had been a golden couple, enjoying a whirlwind courtship amid the backdrop of a glittering social set in prewar London until his sudden death with the sinking of the Lusitania. Five years later, beginning to embrace life again, Evie embarks upon a flight around the world, collecting fame and admirers along the way. In the midst of her triumphant tour, she is shocked to receive a mysterious—and recent—photograph of Gabriel, which brings her ambitious stunt to a screeching halt.

With her eccentric aunt Dove in tow, Evie tracks the source of the photo to the ancient City of Jasmine, Damascus. There she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Danger lurks at every turn, and at stake is a priceless relic, an artifact once lost to time and so valuable that criminals will stop at nothing to acquire it—even murder. Leaving the jewelled city behind, Evie sets off across the punishing sands of the desert to unearth the truth of Gabriel’s disappearance and retrieve a relic straight from the pages of history.

Along the way, Evie must come to terms with the deception that parted her from Gabriel and the passion that will change her destiny forever…

buy from: Amazon | Powell’s | Indiebound | B & N

Paris at the End of the World The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 By John Baxter

Paris at the End of the World The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 By John Baxter

Through a lively blend of memoirs, reminiscences, and modern day adventure, John Baxter (author of The Perfect Meal and Immoveable Feast) takes us into the heart of Paris during The Great War. One of the most fascinating periods in the city’s history, 1914-18 saw the citizens of France under constant threat of German invasion, leading them to live like there was no tomorrow. Tracing the experiences of his own grandfather-an Australian serviceman who found himself in Paris during that fateful year-Baxter explores firsthand the mythology of the period, researching the cafes these young men would have frequented, the romances they might have had, and the transformative mix of fear and freedom among the people that gave rise to the France of modern day.

Paris at the End of the World tells the story of this change from both sides—that of the young soldiers who came to France, and of the Parisians who awaited them. For the French, 1914 meant drinking the last of the wine of pleasure before facing the reality of the modern world. For the foreigners, who had never drank wine before, the experience left them transformed, and able to enter the post-war world transformed.

buy from: Powell’s | Indiebound | Amazon | B & N

Edwardian Fashion 1900-14 by Daniel Milford-Cottam

Edwardian Fashion 1900-14 by Daniel Milford-Cottam

Renowned for its graciousness and elegance, the fashions of the 1910s would undergo some quite revolutionary changes. In the early years of Edward VII’s reign fashionable ladies wore delicately colored, flower-and-lace-trimmed trailing gowns over tight corsets, accessorized by elaborate hairstyles. Women scoured the new fashion magazines to see the new designs from Parisian couturiers, such as Worth and Jeanne Paquin. From around 1906, these excessively luxurious fashions began to fade away, with a new designer, Paul Poiret, causing a stir with his richly colored column gowns and turbans. By 1914, women’s wear was transformed with women wearing boldly colored, dramatically stylized Eastern-inspired kimono wraps, slender hobble skirts, ankle-skimming tunic dresses and turbans. Daniel Milford-Cottam explains these new developments in fashion, and how different fashions were worn by both the most fashionable ladies, and those on more limited budgets. The book will also look at the evolution of men’s wear during this period, including the development of the more modern three-piece suit and more relaxed, less formal menswear.

buy from: B & N | Indiebound | Powell’s | Amazon UK | Amazon

Back in Blighty : The British at Home in World War One Gerard DeGroot

 Back in Blighty : The British at Home in World War One Gerard DeGroot

World War One had a devastating, cataclysmic impact on the world and the British people. As its reverberations were so long-lasting and significant, it is easy to assume that the social consequences were as profound. In this highly readable and moving survey of life back at home during the First World War, Gerard DeGroot challenges this assumption, finding pre-war social structures and ways of life were surprisingly resilient. Despite economic and technological changes, the British people found ways to cling onto their usual ways of life as much as possible in this new world.

Back in Blighty has been fully revised to take into account new scholarship and historical perspectives, and is full of fascinating glimpses into everyday life during the war. The lives of ordinary people are illuminated and given historical significance in this powerful portrait of the British people and their culture.

buy from: Indiebound | Amazon UK | Borders | Amazon | Powell’s

buy links script courtesy of Courtney Milan

A Titanic Proportion of Books!


RMS TitanicLo and behold, we’ve nearly reached the centennial of the Titanic’s sinking (let’s hope the world doesn’t end next December 31), and not only will 2012 witness the 3-D re-release of James Cameron’s Titanic, but the worldwide premiere of Julian Fellowes’ Titanic (trailer here), and hopefully the airing of Titanic: Blood and Steel. The most prevalent source of Titanic lore will be, of course, books. I’ve browsed through the jungles of so you won’t have to, and next spring promises a spate of books ranging from sober non-fiction, to popular narratives, to plucky romances aboard the ship, to interesting mash-ups. I will include the descriptions if possible.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder by Marlene Dotterer (August 29, 2011)
Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.

Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future? Or should they let him die?

The construction of White Star Line’s Olympic-class ships forms the backdrop for a passionate love affair between Tom and Casey, who must overcome the many differences inherent between an Edwardian Irish gentleman, and a member of America’s Generation Y. The fictional love affair grows alongside real lives from history: the Andrews family of Comber, Lord William Pirrie, Bruce Ismay, and the thousands of skilled men who built the remarkable ocean liners of the early twentieth century.
Smashwords & Kindle

Titanic: One Newspaper, Seven Days, and the Truth That Shocked the World by Stephen Hines (September 1, 2011)
The Titanic was the greatest ocean liner ever built and the news of its sinking 5 days into its maiden voyage, shocked the world. Captivated by the tragedy, audiences turned to the trusted Daily Telegraph hoping to find answers to questions of how the “unsinkable ship” could have ever gone down. Misinformation and erroneous reports of what exactly happened to the Titanic were numerous, and it was up to the Telegraph reporters to determine the truth. Focused entirely on media clippings and reporting from the time of the tragedy, Titanic is a ripped-from-the-headlines account of the sinking of the world’s largest ship.

How to Survive the Titanic: Or, the Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay by Frances Wilson (October 11, 2011)
Books have been written and films have been made, we have raised the Titanic and watched her go down again on numerous occasions, but out of the wreckage Frances Wilson spins a new epic: when the ship hit the iceberg on April 14, 1912, and one thousand men, lighting their last cigarettes, prepared to die, J. Bruce Ismay, the ship’s owner and inheritor of the White Star fortune, jumped into a lifeboat filled with women and children and rowed away to safety.

Accused of cowardice and of dictating the Titanic’s excessive speed, Ismay became, according to one headline, “The Most Talked-of Man in the World.” The first victim of a press hate campaign, he never recovered from the damage to his reputation, and while the other survivors pieced together their accounts of the night, Ismay never spoke of his beloved ship again.

In the Titanic’s mail room was a manuscript by that great narrator of the sea, Joseph Conrad, the story of a man who impulsively betrays a code of honor and lives on under the strain of intolerable guilt. But it was Conrad’s great novel Lord Jim, in which a sailor abandons a sinking ship, leaving behind hundreds of passengers in his charge, that uncannily predicted Ismay’s fate. Conrad, the only major novelist to write about the Titanic, knew more than anyone what ships do to men, and it is with the help of his wisdom that Wilson unravels the reasons behind Ismay’s jump and the afterlives of his actions.

Using never-before-seen letters written by Ismay to the beautiful Marion Thayer, a first-class passenger with whom he had fallen in love during the voyage, Frances Wilson explores Ismay’s desperate need to tell his story, to make sense of the horror of it all, and to find a way of living with the consciousness of lost honor. For those who survived the Titanic, the world was never the same. But as Wilson superbly demonstrates, we all have our own Titanics, and we all need to find ways of surviving them.

The Titanic Pocketbook: A Passenger’s Guide by John Blake (Oct 15, 2011)
Launched in May 1911, the triple-screw steamer Titanic was the pride of the White Star Line and at that time the largest passenger ship in the world. Built to carry passengers in comfort and luxury on the lucrative transatlantic route, her design, fittings and on board facilities epitomized the spirit of the age in terms of elegance and style. Cuisine was advertised as the equal of Europe’s top restaurants, while libraries, state-rooms and cabins were decorated in a range of architectural styles to appeal to the tastes of the most discerning passenger.
The Titanic Pocketbook is a unique guide to all these aspects of this great ship, incorporating authentic period literature from sources including White Star Line themselves, Harland & Wolff shipyards, and important publications from the period.

Titanic: The Unfolding Story as told by the Daily Mirror by Richard Havers (November 1, 2011)
This book offers a unique insight into this terrible, yet endlessly fascinating, disaster. It tells the whole story from the commissioning of the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic following their construction, launches and maiden voyages, through to the Titanic’s demise, the immediate aftermath, and the very public enquiries on both sides of the Atlantic. Based on the words of contemporary newspaper reports the story comes alive as it never has before. The depth of detail is fascinating, revealing fresh insights into a tragedy that continues to captivate us today. Use of contemporary newspaper photography and iconic images all help to make this book one of a kind.

A Rare Titanic Family: How the Caldwells Survived the Sinking and Traveled the World by Julie Hedgepeth Williams (Jan 1, 2012)
Of all the families that boarded the doomed ocean liner Titanic together in 1912, only one-fourth arrived safely in New York together. Albert and Sylvia Caldwell and their 10-month-old son, Alden, were one of those rare Titanic families. A Rare Titanic Family draws on first-person accounts from Albert and Sylvia to tell the fascinating story of the young couple who had no intention of getting off the “unsinkable” Titanic. It was, as Sylvia had been told, a ship that God Himself could not sink. They were saved by a combination of luck, pluck, Albert’s outgoing nature, Sylvia’s illness, and Alden’s helplessness. Their detailed story of the short life of the Titanic and their lucky rescue aboard the ill-starred Lifeboat 13 has never been fully told in Titanic literature. A Rare Titanic Family includes a photo taken of them on deck–an unusual surviving souvenir sent to them after the disaster.

But the trip on the Titanic was only one part of a bigger nightmare for the Caldwells. Albert and Sylvia, idealistic young Presbyterian missionaries from the American Midwest, had set out to Bangkok, Siam, on the very day of their wedding in 1909, eager to serve God and see the world. But things went awry. In the end, they fled Bangkok in what they describe as a desperate journey around the world to save Sylvia’s health. Fellow missionaries, however, believed that the couple had been plotting for some time to renege on their contract and contrive an excuse to go home early, at great financial loss to the church. The trip around the world thus developed into a grim game of cat and mouse, with the Caldwells as the prey. Not even the loss of the Titanic ended the hunt. A Rare Titanic Family follows all the true-life plot twists in a biographical account of a family that successfully fled aboard the Titanic but never could get out from under the shadow the ship cast over them.

Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From by Richard Davenport-Hines (Mar 6, 2012)
At 11.40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic 400 miles south of Newfoundland. In less than three hours, 1,517 people—more than two thirds of the men, women, and children aboard—perished as the passenger ship, the largest in the world at that time, broke up and sank into the freezing waters.

On the centennial of this legendary tragedy, Richard Davenport-Hines adds a new dimension to the story, focusing on the Titanic’s voyagers, from the privileged in first class—plutocrats, society matrons, and captains of industry—to the poor immigrants in the cramped steerage decks on their way to a new life in America. Davenport-Hines makes flesh and blood such well-known figures as John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest man on the ship, and Archibald Butt, Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft’s beloved military aide who helped others to survive. Here, too, are the myriad middle and lower-class passengers: clergymen, teachers, hoteliers, engineers, clerks, and others aboard that fateful day. Davenport-Hines also explores the fascinating politics and personalities behind the Titanic’s creation, including larger-than-life men such as J.P. Morgan, the ship’s owner, and Lord Pirrie, its builder.

Illustrated with thirty-two pages of black-and-white photographs, Voyagers of the Titanic illuminates the human legacy of this terrible tragedy—the heroism and sacrifice, hope and love—and reveals the meaning it holds for us to this day.

Titanic Tragedy: A New Look at the Lost Liner by John Maxtone-Graham (Mar 19, 2012)
The dean of ocean liner historians uncovers fascinating and unknown aspects of this epic disaster.

This is a book unlike any other. Rather than offering simply a detailed retelling of the Titanic sinking on her maiden voyage, John Maxtone-Graham devotes his considerable knowledge and impeccable prose to a discussion of salient, provocative, and rarely investigated components of the story, including dramatic survivors’ accounts of the events of the fateful night, the role of newly in-vented wireless telecommunication in the disaster, the construction and its ramifications at the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, and the dawn rendezvous with the rescue ship Carpathia. Richly written and vividly detailed, this is the book Titanic buffs have been waiting for.

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster (Mar 27, 2012)
The wealthy and glamorous passengers who boarded the Titanic, history’s most famous ship, provide “an exquisite microcosm of the Edwardian era.” But in most books about the doomed voyage, their stories are incidental to the ship’s collision with an iceberg on April 14, 1912.
Hugh Brewster, who created several bestselling books on the Titanic, here uses original research to intertwine, for the first time, their lives within the powerful arc of the ship’s dramatic demise.

The cast includes artist and writer Frank Millet, the Director of Decorations for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair; White House aide Archie Butt; John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim; and Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon, a leading couturiere, among others. Through these vivid characters, we gain insight into the arts, politics, culture, and sexual mores of a world both distant and near to our own.

All converge on the boat deck of the Titanic during the ship’s final hours and we become witnesses to a heartbreakingly poignant scene where some survive and some do not.

The final chapters recount the rescue of the passengers in lifeboats by the Carpathia and the trip back to New York with only 705 of the more than 2,200 on board. Some men who survived lived under a cloud of cowardice. Others left a remarkable legacy that leads us to art collector Peggy Guggenheim whose father died when the Titanic sank, or to philanthropist Brooke Astor, daughter-in-law of John Jacob Astor, and how the circumstances of her recent death became “the last Astor scandal.”

The Titanic is one of the most enduring stories of all time. The focus on it will be intensified for the 100th anniversary of its sinking on April 14/15, 2012 for which hundreds of commemorative events are being scheduled.

Love, Break, Service, Victory: A Tale from the Titanic by Lindsay Gibbs (Apr 1, 2012)
Based on a stirring and remarkable true story, this work of historical fiction tells of the intertwined life of Dick Williams and Karl Behr who survived the sinking of the Titanic and went on to have Hall of Fame tennis careers. Two years before they faced each other in the U.S. Championships, the two men boarded the infamous ship as strangers. Dick, shy and gangly, was moving to America to pursue a tennis career. Karl, a dashing tennis veteran, was chasing after Helen, the love of his life. When tragedy struck and the unsinkable ship began to do so, the two men met dramatically on board the rescue ship Carpathia and leaned on each other—literally and figuratively—to survive those few days before reaching land. But as they reached the shores of the United States, they both did all they could to distance themselves from the disaster, until a fateful 1914 U.S. Championships draw forced them to face each other once again. An emotional and touching work, this novel seamlessly weaves history and fiction with themes of love, friendship, and above all perseverance.

A Hymn for Eternity: The Story of Wallace Hartley, Titanic Bandmaster by Yvonne Carroll (April 1, 2012)
The life story of the leader of the band who played on as the Titanic went down

Yvonne Carroll has spent years researching the life story of Wallace Hartley, including conducting interviews with remaining members of his family. The band playing “Nearer my God to Thee” as the ship went down is probably one of the most famous stories relating to the Titanic. The bravery of the band and their leader, Wallace Hartley, is one of the endearing stories to come out of the worst disaster to happen to a British passenger liner. Who comprised the band? Who was Wallace Hartley and where did he come from? Not much has been written about this enigmatic band leader or of his part in the tragedy, beyond a few mentions in the many books on the disaster, but he was one of the most important characters in the story of Titanic. Here, the author tells his story and remembers this hero about whom so little has been known.

And the Band Played On: The Titanic Violinist and the Glovemaker: A True Story of Love, Loss and Betrayal by Christopher Ward (Apr 1, 2012)
The amazing true story of one of the band members who famously played as the Titanic sank, written by his grandson

On April 14, 1912, when the Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage and sank, 1,500 passengers and crew lost their lives. As the order to abandon ship was given, the orchestra took their instruments on deck and continued to play as the ship went down. The violinist, 21 year-old Jock Hume, knew that his fiancée, Mary, was expecting their first child, the author’s mother. A century later, Christopher Ward reveals a dramatic story of love, loss, and betrayal, and the catastrophic impact of Jock’s death on two very different Scottish families. He paints a vivid portrait of an age in which class determined the way people lived—and died. This outstanding piece of historical detective work is also a moving account of how the author’s quest to learn more about his grandfather revealed the shocking truth about a family he thought he knew, a truth that had been hidden for nearly 100 years.

The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board the Titanic by Bianca Turetsky (April 3, 2012)
What if a beautiful vintage dress could take you back in time?

Louise Lambert has always dreamed of movie starlets and exquisite gowns and longs for the day when she can fill the closet of her normal suburban home with stylish treasures. But when she receives a mysterious invitation to a vintage fashion sale in the mail, her once painfully average life is magically transformed into a time-travel adventure.

Suddenly onboard a luxurious cruise ship a hundred years ago, Louise relishes the glamorous life of this opulent era and slips into a life of secrets, drama, and decadence. . . . Dreamy and imaginative, The Time-Traveling Fashionista features thirty full-color fashion illustrations to show gorgeous dresses and styles throughout history.

Titanic: The Death and Life of a Legend by Michael Davie (Apr 3, 2012)
Reprint of 1987 release. Tells the story of the Titanic from its construction to the discovery of its wreckage and describes the social and emotional impact of its sinking

What Sank the World’s Biggest Ship?: And Other Questions About the Titanic (Good Question!) by Mary Kay Carson and Mark Elliott (Apr 3, 2012)
Why was the Titanic so huge? Did all the passengers really eat off gold plates? How could an iceberg just appear out of nowhere? Here are the answers to all these and other “must-know” questions about the building, launch, and tragic sinking of the most famous ship of all time. This trivia-rich look back on that fateful night includes gripping, true information that will entice young readers–even if they don’t have to write a book report!

The Myth of the Titanic: Centenary Edition by Richard Howells (Apr 24, 2012)
Why does the story of the Titanic retain such a hold on the popular imagination, one hundred years after it sank on the night of 15 April 1912? Howells explores the myths around the Titanic legend, showing what they reveal about the culture of their time, as well as the role that myth still plays in our lives today.

Titanic Century: Media, Myth, and the Making of a Cultural Icon by Paul Heyer (Apr 30, 2012)
The Titanic’s fate is still very much in our collective consciousness. A catastrophe that was unimaginable at the time, now 100 years later it continues to provide lessons that we have not yet fully absorbed. And the debate continues regarding how the loss of life might have been averted—could, for example, the nearby ship, Californian, have rescued everyone on board Titanic?

The book examines the relationship between a momentous historical event, the media that have been involved in reporting and re-presenting it, and the subsequent transformation of the disaster into an enduring myth in contemporary popular culture. The book will also show how the sinking of the Titanic helped make Guglielmo Marconi a household name; set David Sarnoff on the path that led to his becoming head of RCA; raised the stature of The New York Times to the eminence it has today; and helped give film director James Cameron his current notoriety and influence.

Titanic Rhapsody: A Novel by Jina Bacarr

Titanic Rhapsody is the story of Katie O’Reilly, an enterprising Irish lass who takes the place of the Countess of Marbury when the Titanic sinks, and how a dashing gambler, a wealthy industrialist and a bet made between them changes her life. Katie rises to the heights of New York Society–only to see it all threatened fifty years later when her secret is revealed…

Coming Soon from Shire Books


Shire Books has been gracious enough to send me a few wonderful titles relevant to Edwardian Promenade, and as I browsed their July-December 2010 catalog, I was excited by the number of upcoming releases I thought would interest my readers.

In July, we have The London Underground by Andrew Emmerson. As funny as it may seem, subways were a late 19th century concept, and the London Underground is such an interesting topic because it just seems so modern to think of commuting (ca 1889) and rush hour (ca 1890).

Jumping into the 1920s, John Shepherd’s 1920s Britain: 1920-1929 is written from the perspective of those who lived, worked, and played in London in the aftermath of the devastating WWI.

In September, we have Life in the Victorian Country House by Pamela Horn. Horn has authored two of my most treasured books in my research collection, Ladies of the Manor: Wives and Daughters in Country-house Society 1830-1918 and High Society: The English Social Elite 1880-1914, and she appears to revisit both books in Life in the Victorian Country House (here’s to hoping she includes the best bits from them in this book).

Another interesting September title is Wig, Hairdressing and Shaving Bygones by Gail Durbin. This book covers beauty apparatuses from the age of wigs to hair clippers, and it looks very good.

In October, we have The Edwardian Farm by Jonathan Brown. A major reason why American heiresses were so sought after in the 1880s and beyond was because of the agricultural depression which struck the farms of our late Victorian and Edwardian aristocrats. The combined pressures of American and German industrialization and the desire for new generations of country folk to seek their wealth in factories or in England’s major cities served to decrease the income of most aristocrats considerably. Hence, the influx of cash from American coffers, cash which ironically derived from the industries that were killing the British economy, was much needed in a way British society had never before experienced. But as in the United States, farming rapidly turned towards industrialization and as this was the age of steam, the lives of English farmers is fascinating.

Also in October we have Early Electrical Appliances by Bob Gordon. Bet you didn’t know that electric toasters were invented in the 1890s, nor that Hoover vacuums date from 1908. Gordon recounts the histories of the labor-saving devices invented in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the “servant problem” reached its peak.

Sound interesting? Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing to win a copy of The Victorians and Edwardians at Play by John Hannavy.