Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Sinking of the RMS Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic: Credit Bridgeman Art Library
Among the finds at a book sale last fall, my husband discovered a 1955 paperback on the sinking of the RMS Titanic by Walter Lord entitled A Night to Remember. It remains one of the most authoritative accounts of the tragedy and inspired a movie in 1958 by the same name, which you can view online.  It's worth the watch.

Today marks the 106th anniversary of the ship's sinking, but its story never seems to grow old. If you've never read Thomas Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain," you might want to check it out. The poem's imagery of the iceberg forming in the ocean while shipbuilders are constructing what they believe to be an unsinkable ship is striking. The sinking of the Titanic was the perfect subject for the fatalistic Hardy.

What struck me the most about Walter Lord's account of the sinking is how the ship was a perfect microcosm of the class system that existed at that time. More than 1500 passengers died while there were only 710 survivors. The class of the passenger in fact determined their survival: the death rate of steerage passengers was much higher than those in first class quarters. It  was women and children first in the lifeboats, but many of those in third class--locked below in the ship--never had the option of boarding one. Seventeen per cent of first class children were lost as opposed to 66 per cent of third class children. Three per cent of first class passenger women were lost as opposed to 54 per cent in third class quarters. Many of the lifeboats departed the vessel only half full.

 The class distinction persisted even in death. When Canadian rescue ships started on their mission to recover bodies, they discovered they didn't have sufficient embalming supplies. (Under regulation, bodies were required to be embalmed before being returned to port.) They preserved the bodies of the obviously well-to-do passengers for burial in Halifax, while abandoning the others to their watery grave.

The scope of the tragedy was compounded by many factors: there were not enough lifeboats for the passengers onboard; the myth of the unsinkability of the ship led many to believe that they were in no real danger;  numerous ice warnings were not given enough credence by the radio operator, who was busy sending out  messages from the millionaires aboard to families and friends, crowing about their presence on the Titanic's maiden voyage; and the practice of the time to have radio operators available only on a part-time basis meant that the SS Californian, only a few miles away, did not receive the Titanic's distress messages. (The ship's crew also watched, but ignored rockets from the Titanic because they weren't the usual colour of flares denoting distress.)

In retrospect, there seemed to be an inevitability about the ship's tragic end. In fact, there was a novella published by Morgan Robertson in 1898 in which many of the details of the later sinking of the Titanic were foreshadowed.

Is there truly such a thing as fate?






Monday, 9 April 2018

A Quiet Place

Released on April 6, 2018, in the United States and Canada, this film has already garnered an almost perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes with excellent reviews from critics and movie-goers alike.

The film is directed by John Krasinski, who also stars in the movie along with his real-life wife, Emily Blunt. It has an intriguing premise: in a dystopian world, a family must flee to the woods, where creatures hunt their targets by sound. If they hear you, they hurt you.

In addition to considering his film a metaphor for parenthood, Krasinski compared the premise to US politics in 2018, "I think in our political situation, that's what's going on now: You can close your eyes and stick your head in the sand, or you can try to participate in whatever's going on." (Source: Wikipedia)

To view the trailer, please click here.

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Portal & The Experiment







My apologies for the length between posts. I hope to start blogging regularly again.

I'm pleased to announce that my fourth book, The Portal & The Experiment: Two Novellas of Suspense, is now available in e-book format and will shortly be published in paperback.

This is my first venture into the use of first-person narrative, and I hope you will like the book. As in my previous novels, I've used elements of the supernatural, as well as extra-sensory perceptions. I added the element of a "chase" to the second novella, "The Experiment," something I always enjoy in a suspense novel.

Here's a synopsis of the two stories:

THE PORTAL - As a young girl, Emily Montfort invented a mythology of her own, but as an adult caring for her mother, who is dying of Alzheimer's disease, she knows that flights of fancy are a luxury she can no longer afford. Still grieving after her mother's death, Emily hires Carrie, an exuberant young woman, to help her run the antique shop she's inherited from her mother. Emily prides herself on her practicality, living in an apartment above the shop in a closely circumscribed world. But one day she discovers that the mirror on an antique dresser reflects more than her pale, sad face and that there may be a world beyond the practical and sensible inviting her to enter its portal.


THE EXPERIMENT - Jack Booth is an empath who's been made to feel like an outcast by his own mother. But now he's bonded with five other university students who possess extra-sensory powers in an experiment that's supposed to map the potential of the human brain. Under the direction of the self-professed transhumanist Dr. Derek Avery, the sky seems to be the limit until Jack and his fellow subjects find themselves trapped in an abandoned asylum with no potential for escape, and the purpose of the experiment no longer seems quite so noble.


The book is available online at https://www.amazon.com/Portal-Experim....