On a Cold Dark Sea

Written by Elizabeth Blackwell
Review by Rebecca Cochran

This story is told from three different viewpoints as three very different women wind up in Lifeboat 21 as the Titanic sinks. Charlotte Digby, a liar and con artist, is aboard the Titanic under false pretenses. Esme Harper is a wealthy American trying to get back home, and Anna Halversson is a Swedish farm girl hoping for a new start in America. Each woman’s tale is presented through flashbacks as they rush to find safety on the sinking ship. Part II skips ahead to 1932 America when Charlotte sees a newspaper article that brings the past rushing back to her. All the memories of that time spur her to find out what happened to Anna and Esme, as well as to right a past wrong.

Class differences aboard the ship are related in a profound and realistic way. Blackwell captures the terror of the passengers and the mistakes that were made quite vividly. Throughout the story, Blackwell also weaves in snippets from real newspaper clippings and Congressional Hearings as she tells the story of each woman. This adds to the authenticity of the novel and makes the fictional aspects seem real. All in all, this is a dramatic story. Readers will be intrigued by the mysterious Charlotte, charmed by the lovely Anna, and rooting for Esme. Recommended.