Thursday, September 12, 2019

Book Review - The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White

Book Synopsis
From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.

May 2013
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .

April 1915
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .
As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself.


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review
The Glass Ocean is a historical novel about the RMS Lusitania.  It tells three stories: Sarah Blake is a writer who makes a Lusitania related find in her family's belongings.  This find sets her off on a search.  Caroline Telfair Hochstetter is a southern belle from Savannah who has married into New York society in the 1910's. She plans to travel on the Lusitania with her husband, only to find her old beau will also be on board.  Tess Fairweather has been talked into a forgery job on the Lusitania by her sister.

I was interested in this book from first mention. I have long been fascinated by stories of ocean travel, but knew only the basics about the Lusitania.

The historical details in this book are rich and detailed.  They encouraged me to read more about the RMS Lusitania and look up photos of the ship online.  The descriptions of the ship in The Glass Ocean were absolutely perfect.

I am amazed at how well the authors pulled off a complex three (!) storyline novel.  The stories intertwine seamlessly.  I noticed several chapters would end on a phrase or theme and then the next chapter would pick up the same phrase or theme.  I thought this was a very clever way to help the interrelated storylines flow together.

The storylines were all very interesting.  Since I originally hail from Savannah, I had a special interest in Caroline's story.  I also loved the mystery in Sarah's story, as she worked with a descendent of a Lusitania survivor, John Langford, to crack a code found on the ship -- a code that may have had something to do with the ship's fate.

I was intrigued by life on board the Lusitania, especially knowing that the ship was in its last days.  I also found Sarah's life in current day England very interesting.  I loved the description of the Langford family folly, an old astronomical observatory converted to a tiny house.

Robert Langford, a passenger on the Lusitania with ties to both Caroline and Tess, has a telling passage:

"People like simple stories.  Good and evil, hero and villain.  We try to mold people into familiar roles, roles we can understand.  The devoted mother, the heartless adulteress, the wastrel, the toady, the patriot - the traitor.  But it's never that simple, is it?" (p. 182)  This passage presents a theme which is played out over the pages of this book in both 1915 and current day storylines.

The Glass Ocean was a fascinating read. I am a long-time fan of Beatriz Williams, but plan to also look for books by Lauren Willig and Karen White in the future.  I highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction.  It is a book you will stay up late reading, and think about for days after you close the last page.

Author Bios

About Beatriz Williams
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.
Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Lauren Willig
Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several novels. She lives in New York City with her family.
Find out more about Lauren at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About Karen White
Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and currently writes Southern women’s fiction. She lives in Georgia with her husband and two Havanese dogs.
Find out more about Karen at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thanks to HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read this book.


Sara Strand said...

I don't know why but I'm always intrigued by stories of people on a ship that isn't going to make it. It sounds completely morbid but I've always felt so impacted from them. I will have to add this to my list. Thank you for being on this tour. Sara @ TLC Book Tours

trish said...

The Lusitania is so fascinating -- I'd love to read a story where it features prominently! It's the kind of thing that really takes you back in time.