Titanic Ashes is a slim novel that takes place entirely over the course of a dinner at a fine restaurant in 1925, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s not much depth to it. Righteous anger, remorse, embarrassment, entitlement… it’s all there in force as Butler’s characters continue to struggle over the tragic night when 1500 souls died.
Ten-year-old Miranda Grimsden and her mother were lucky; the two first-class ladies made it off the Titanic to safety and arrived unscathed in New York. Now, years later, the emotions of that time come rushing back when Miranda spies J. Bruce Ismay, the Titanic owner who escaped the sinking liner when so many others lost their lives. The young Miranda once wrote an angry letter to Ismay, accusing him of cowardice; the grown up Miranda still wrestles with the aftermath of both the letter and the sinking. Ismay’s daughter, Evelyn, is dining with her father when she sees the Grimsdens, and their appearance forces all the pent up anger she’s held toward those who have berated her father to come to a head. Clashes, both large and small, ensue as both parties finally realize just what was lost that fateful night, and just where the blame lies.
Titanic Ashes is a fast read filled with elegant expression and surprising emotion. Butler makes it easy to see inside the turmoil both sides felt when split second decisions made the difference between life or death. With surprising conclusions for all, this gem of a novel is sure to please those looking to expand on what came after.