Completion Date: April 14, 2012
Reason for Reading: Titanic Week.
When the Titanic started sinking, who would make it off alive? The two cousins who had been so eager to see their first iceberg? The maid who desperately tried to escape with the baby in her care? The young newlyweds who’d booked passage despite warnings not to?
One hundred years after that disastrous and emblematic voyage, Elizabeth Kaye reveals the extraordinary, little-known story behind one of the first lifeboats to leave the doomed ship.
Told in real time and in the actual voices of survivors, Kaye’s poignant, pulse-pounding narrative includes the story of the Countess of Rothes, the wealthiest woman on the ship, bound for California, where she and her husband planned to start an orange farm. It was the Countess, dressed in ermine and pearls, who took command of Lifeboat No. 8, rowing for hours through the black and icy water. In the words of one of the Titanic’s crew, she was “more of a man than any we have on board.”
At the heart of Kaye’s tale is a budding romance between the Countess’s maid, Roberta Maioni, and the Titanic’s valiant wireless operator, Jack Phillips. While Roberta made it safely onto Lifeboat No. 8, holding nothing but a photo of Jack she had run back to her cabin to retrieve, he remained on the ship, where he would send out the world’s first SOS signal. But would it be received in time to save his life?
Surviving that fateful night in the North Atlantic was not the end of the saga for those aboard Lifeboat No 8. Kaye reveals what happened to each passenger and crew member and how the legendary maritime disaster haunted them forever.
A century later, we’re still captivated by the Titanic and its passengers. With its skillful use of survivors’ letters, diaries, and testimonies, “Lifeboat No. 8” adds a dramatic new chapter to the ongoing story....
A longtime contributor to “Esquire,” “Rolling Stone,” and “The New York Times,” Elizabeth Kaye is the author of “Mid-Life: Notes from the Halfway Mark” and “Ain’t No Tomorrow: Kobe, Shaq, and the Making of a Lakers Dynasty,” as well as the bestselling Byliner Original “Sleeping with Famous Men.”I was on Goodreads and I just happened to see Ana post that she wanted to read this book. I was intrigued because I hadn't heard of it before and that meant me checking it out almost immediately. Then I bought it... And then I read it. All in the same day. There are benefits to e-books! I love non-fiction about the Titanic, so I was curious about the more immediate nature of this book. It is a Kindle Short which, as far as I understand, is where authors say what needs to be said in as few words as possible. This was written in a very readable way that made it easy to read in one sitting. I am glad I went to check it out after seeing Ana mention it.
Lifeboat 8 was one of the first boats lowered on that fateful night. This book chronicles what things were like for the passengers it contained. In some cases it retraces their moments before the ship sinks. The book is based on testimony, quotes, etc that surfaced after the Carpathia returned to New York. The thing that is so great about how Kaye chooses to tell her story is that she tells it first-hand. It is not someone 100 years later recapping events, but more a chance to be there that night and the nights afterwards. I think it worked out really well. It might not contain entirely new information, but it chooses an aspect of the Titanic history that is limited, so there is more chance to get into the details. It makes the story seem fresh even though you have probably heard bits and pieces of it before in other books.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is perfect if you are looking for a quick introduction to some of the events from that night. My only major regret was that I actually wish it was longer and even more detailed, but Kaye was limited by the fact that all the survivors are now deceased and only so much remains of their impressions and experiences.