Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hearts That Survive, A Novel of the Titanic - Yvonne Lehmann

On April 15, 1912, Lydia Beaumont is on her way to a new life with a boundless hope in love and faith. Her new friendship with Caroline Chadwick is bonded even more as they plan Lydia’s wedding on board the “grandest ship ever built.” Then both women suffer tragic losses when the “unsinkable” Titanic goes down. Can each survive the scars the disaster left on their lives?

Decades later, Alan Morris feels like a failure until he discovers he is the descendant of an acclaimed, successful, heroic novelist who went down with the Titanic. Will he find his identity with the past, or will he listen to Joanna Bettencourt, Caroline’s granddaughter, who says inner peace and success come only with a personal relationship with the Lord?

Will those who survived and their descendants be able to find a love more powerful than their pain?
I have to start by saying that Christian fiction is not usually a genre I read. Still, I was looking for Titanic themed books and decided to give it a try. I don't think the blurb above correctly describes what the book is all about. It covers the beginning and the end but there are a lot more things happening in between.

The story starts on the Titanic. Lydia Beaumont is aboard with the man she loves, John Ancell, and the man her father wants her to marry, Craven Dowd. She is a rail road heiress and Ancell has a more modest living but when she discovers she is expecting his child, they decide to marry on board. They do it and a few hours later the Titanic hits the iceberg and tragedy follows. Caroline Chadwick is Lydia's friend. She is also aboard with her husband and her maid.

When both their husbands die that night Lydia and Caroline form a bond. They remain friends despite leading very different lives. Lydia ends up marrying Craven Dowd and Caroline goes to Halifax, first to recognise her husband's body and then because that is where she finds a purpose for her life and love. The sinking of the Titanic, and their actions after the tragedy, will influence their lives and those of their children. And that was the most interesting thing for me. The lives of the several generations and what happened to all of them.

The scenes on the Titanic end up being just a small part of the story. I did like how the sinking was described, although there were several points of view, I think that added an urgency and confusion to those scenes that probably were very close to the real thing. I also liked the final moments of several of the characters very much, they were emotional and sensitive.

However I didn't like John Ancell and Lydia at all. He was too preachy; finding out you are going to be a father and, as a response, tell the future mother to go read a psalm sounded really odd. Lydia seemed to me a spoiled young girl. What she does with Craven after they reach New York and marry was totally wrong morally speaking. After all that talk of God it seemed wrong to have her act that way. I also didn't understand the author's intention with Craven. At first he is portrayed as a bit of a villain and then he ends up as the wronged husband who still behaves honourably and does not punish the innocent.

I much preferred Caroline! Her problems with her husband, her relationship with the Stanton-Jones children and with her maid... How things happened slower with her, how she also found a purpose in life after the tragedy and someone to share it with. The importance of God in one's life is also very much present but in a more fluid way. Through her and her story we are also treated to a part of Canadian history.

But this is just half of it as the book then follows the next generation and the influence that the tragedy had in them. I thought some of them were a bit exaggerated (one character too rich and successful, another too discouraged and beaten by his circumstances) but there was definitely a good story here. With the above mentioned flaws but an interesting story.

Grade: 4/5

Thank you to NetGalley and Abingdon Press for sending me a copy of this book. This review was written for the Titanic Week that took place at Historical Tapestry


  1. Snatched is an ebook short story in the Will Trent/Georgia series by Karin Slaughter. Will Trent is on airport toilet duty, hiding in a cubicle waiting for gay cruisers, as punishment for refusing to get a haircut. Bored almost senseless, when a man brings a little girl into the restroom, his cop's intuition kicks in, telling him something is amiss. With nothing more than a hunch, he tails the pair, alerts authorities and has one of the busiest airports in the country heading towards lockdown. While this is a short story, Slaughter's plot, characters and pace are first class; Will is his usual understated but competent self; Faith Mitchell manages to inject a little dry humour into a tense situation. This is a small dose of Will Trent to hold faithful Slaughter fans until the next full length Georgia novel, Criminal (of which there is a tantalising taste included in this ebook), comes out. Once again, Karin Slaughter does not disappoint.

  2. I'm glad to hear it. I'll have to add it to my to buy list...


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


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