Unsurprisingly, this year, will spark a revival of interest in one of the most fascinating tragedies which after 100 years, still holds so much interest. The Titanic has always been shrouded in romance and intrigue despite the horrific loss of life suffered in such cruel circumstances; and as memorial services, TV dramas, documentaries and a re-release of Kate and Leo’s epic romance (in all its 3d ‘glory’), the book world also nods its head in remembrance.
Shadows of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson is a book which turns its attention to the Titanic survivors. Unlike other publications, this doesn’t stop after their escape but explores how they continued to survive life after the disaster.
Although the concept of survivor’s guilt did not exist in theory, it was clearly felt by many on board that night. As the few made their escape while listening to the thousand, or so, souls fighting for their lives, the reality of being a survivor of the Titanic was dawning as something equally difficult to comprehend. Andrew Wilson highlights this in many of the stories he tells. One in particular is extremely heart breaking. Titanic stewardess, Annie Robinson, who had been so fortunate to survive that ill-fated night, took her life by jumping from the deck of a ship returning her to Boston two years later. Wilson describes how the conditions that night sparked memories of her escape and the overwhelming feeling became too much. It is difficult to see such vulnerability in the confident looking lady, dressed in black, pictured on her arrival in Southampton. However, her story like many others is the ‘shadow’ which haunted so many of the Titanic’s passenger’s lives.
There are of course an equal amount of success stories, like the two French boys, snatched by their father who had planned a new life in America away from his wife. On the night of the sinking, he wrapped his boys in warm clothes and placed them on a lifeboat and never saw them again. On their arrival in New York a frantic search the mother led to their reunion not long after. Wilson goes on to explain what happened to the boys in later life and the reunion of a little boy who played with them days after their arrival in New York.
There are so many stories to discover in this book that it won’t take you long to read through all. With a clear passion to tell the full story of the Titanic survivors, Andrew Wilson has paid a fitting tribute to them in this fascinating account.