She Wore Only White

Written by Dörthe Binkert
Review by Cynthia McArthur

It is said the journey is more important than the destination. That is true of She Wore Only White. From the moment the beautiful lady in the white evening gown steps foot on the ocean liner Kroonland, her mysterious appearance causes scandal. Quickly rumor gets around that the lady is a stowaway of unknown origins, friendless, penniless, and with only the white dress to her name. Those passengers kind or brave enough to speak to her in those first days express surprise at her vacant and melancholy demeanor. The sculptor Henri, on his way to the World’s Fair in St. Louis, decides she must be escaping a very sad past, and as it turns out, so is he.

As the days spent cramped inside the ship draw the passengers closer, they find comfort and maybe some clarity in their newfound and unexpected relationships with each other. As they unknowingly turn to one another for support over rough seas, literally and figuratively, revelations and life-changing decisions are made.

The character development in this novel is slow and steady and complete, and the prose elegantly expresses the yearning, oppression, and hope felt at the turn of the 20th century, a time when society was changing rapidly, to the pleasure and dismay of the passengers of the Kroonland. The story is just a priceless snapshot in so many peoples’ lives and will leave you wondering where their lives took them when they left the Kroonland and at last stepped onto solid land again.