For readers of Kate Williams, Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson, a captivating novel of love and resilience during the Great War, inspired by the author’s family history.
As the First World War rages in continental Europe, two New York heiresses, Sydney and Brooke Sinclair, are due to set sail for England. Brooke is engaged to marry impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook, in the wedding of the social calendar. Sydney has other adventures in mind; she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement, which is a constant source of embarrassment to her proper sister. As international tempers flare, the German embassy releases a warning that any ships making the Atlantic crossing are at risk. Undaunted, Sydney and Brooke board the Lusitania for the seven-day voyage with Edward, not knowing that disaster lies ahead.
In London, Isabel Nelson, a young woman grateful to have escaped her blemished reputation in Oxford, has found employment at the British Admiralty in the mysterious Room 40. While she begins as a secretary, it isn’t long before her skills in codes and cyphers are called on, and she learns a devastating truth and the true cost of war.
As the days of the voyage pass, these four lives collide in a struggle for survival as the Lusitania meets its deadly fate.
This is a novel about the sinking of the ship The Lusitania during World War I. At the heart of the story are 4 main characters, Sydney (a wealthy suffragette) and her sister (Brooke) who are travelling from New York to England with Brooke's aristocratic but penniless fiance, Edward, for Brooke and Edward's wedding. In England, a young woman named Isabel works as a secret decoder for the British government. In the course of her work, she learns the Germans have threatened to torpedo the Lusitania.
I found the pace of the first half of the book sluggish with small bits and pieces of conflict here and there. I almost dropped the book, but kept pushing on. I'm glad I did because the last third of the book was poignant with despair as the sinking of the ship and the fate of its passengers was depicted.
A good book, well written and well grounded in historical details pertaining to this famous doomed ship and its passengers, but be prepared to persevere a little through the first half to get to the real meat and potatoes of the tale.