Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Intro: Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage

At the Cherbourg Quay
Wednesday, April 10, 1912, 3:40 P.M. 
The Titanic  was going to be late. 
To the first-class travelers aboard the Train Transatlantique, now chugging to a stop at Cherbourg's quayside terminus, this would be dismaying news. The six-hour journey from Paris had been quite long enough. How many hours, they wondered, would now have to be spent in this small, smoke-grimed station before White Star's new steamer could arrive to take them to New York?
Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World
by Hugh Brewster
Broadway Paperbacks, 2013

Even though fiction is my normal reading fare, I also enjoy well-written nonfiction on a variety of subjects. The story of the Titanic is endlessly fascinating, so when a new book focusing on the lives of the first class passengers became available for review, I couldn't resist. Three words from the title/description clinched my decision: Edwardian, Titanic, first-class.
The Titanic has often been called "an exquisite microcosm of the Edwardian era,” but until now, her story has not been presented as such. In Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage, historian Hugh Brewster seamlessly interweaves personal narratives of the lost liner’s most fascinating people with a haunting account of the fateful maiden crossing. Employing scrupulous research and featuring 100 rarely seen photographs, he accurately depicts the ship’s brief life and tragic denouement and presents compelling, memorable portraits of her most notable passengers: millionaires John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim; President Taft's closest aide, Major Archibald Butt; writer Helen Churchill Candee; the artist Frank Millet; movie actress Dorothy Gibson; the celebrated couturiere Lady Duff Gordon; aristocrat Noelle, the Countess of Rothes; and a host of other travelers. Through them, we gain insight into the arts, politics, culture, and sexual mores of a world both distant and near to our own. And with them, we gather on the Titanic’s sloping deck on that cold, starlit night and observe their all-too-human reactions as the disaster unfolds. More than ever, we ask ourselves, “What would we have done?”
After a couple of chapters, I'm enjoying this quite a bit. Are you interested in the Titanic?  What do you think of the opening?

 Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.


  1. The Titanic is a never ending source of fiction and non fiction books. This seems like a worthwhile history book.

  2. I've read quite a few Titanic stories over the years. Knowing how the story ends always adds a certain tension to the day to day goings on before that fateful night.
    I like the tension created in your opener by the author of rushing to your doom.

  3. I can't seem to get enough of the Titanic. I have this on my list -- I'm looking forward to hearing how you like it.

  4. I am intrigued by stories of the Titanic, but hadn't thought of reading more...but this one sounds unique. Thanks for sharing.


  5. I'm another Titanic buff - Walter Lord's A Night to Remember is my favorite book about it. This does sound interesting. None of the accounts I've read start at Cherbourg, now that I think about it.

  6. I love your choice and rationale. I am a huge fan of the Edwardian era and love stories set during that time. This book is going on my TBR list.

    Here's my Tuesday into and teaser: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2013/05/first-chapter-first-paragraph-14-and.html

  7. I love reading about the Edwardian era, but I find the story of the Titanic so horrifying that I tend to avoid anything about it. I haven't even seen the film!

  8. I am also fascinated with the Titanic but have allowed several books (some fiction some non-fiction) to sit on my shelves. This one sounds good too. I think with this topic I prefer non-fiction.

  9. This one sounds fantastic! Last year I got to visit the Titanic museum in Pigeon Forge, TN and it was so cool!

  10. I may be the only dissenter here. I shy away from subjects like the Titanic. I already know it's not going to have a happy ending. That's just me. I hope you enjoy it.

  11. I've been fascinated by the Titanic since I first learned about it and I watched the National Geo documentary when they discovered it numerous times. This book sounds simply excellent. I'm a big fan of non-fiction, though I seem to not read as much as I used to..these darned novels are always clamoring for attention.

    It goes on my Amazon wish list.

  12. I'm not a titanic fanatic, but the story is interesting. Hope you enjoy it. Here's Mine

  13. Hmmm, no sure I'd read this one, but oddly if it is well narrated it is one I might listen to. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for joining us this week.

    1. Diane - This is exactly the kind of nonfiction I enjoy listening to... almost wish i'd been offered an audio review copy ;-)

  14. I don't read much NF either, but like, Diane, I will listen to it.

  15. Just the picture you posted on Twitter today of this cover intrigued me. Definitely looks like something I'll be interested in.

  16. denouement! I have a button that says that.
    If this has lots of photos, I could be very interested. I am not really one of those Titanic fascinatees, but I did like finding out about Molly Brown and have always wanted to know more about her.

  17. I'm totally intrigued by the Titanic myself so I can easily understand why you're enjoying it!

  18. The story of the Titanic is fascinating but so sad too. I don't know if this one's for me though- to get to know all these people but then have them die at the end.


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! Be sure to check back, I always respond. Due to a recent increase in spam, all comments are moderated.


Related Posts with Thumbnails