Cold April

Written by Phyllis A. Humphrey
Review by Cecelia Holland

There’s enough foreshadowing in chapter one of this romance to sink the Titanic, which is what heroine Beth Smallcross is sailing on. Beth is serving as governess for a three-year-old girl; she is rapidly falling in love with the girl’s father, her employer, rich American Richard Graham. She also entertains some thoughts of setting out on her own, once she reaches New York, and beginning a career as a typist.

In the several days on shipboard before the Event, Beth meets a handsome, giddy magician, who challenges her growing love for Richard, and the author gets to parade a lot of detail about the great doomed liner. But the novel is curiously flat. The writing limps, tuneless; people drink “liquid” and gowns are “creations.” The characters are only outlines of people, with no ascertainable inner lives, and none of the outward gestures that would suggest such inner lives. The author clearly knows everything about the Titanic and its sinking but the event itself seems undramatic and unsuspenseful, especially as we always know the main characters will survive. Readers wanting a soothing bedtime read might enjoy this, but those looking for a quick course in the Titanic should just go back to Walter Lord.