Thursday, April 19, 2012

Recommended read: The Watch That Ends The Night

The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices From the Titanic by Allan Wolf
Find it in the catalog!

In The Watch That Ends The Night poet Allan Wolf narrates the tragic maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic through poems in verse. The poems are told from the points of view of the passengers and crew on the ship, from millionaire John Jacob Astor to third class refugee Jamila Nicola-Yarred, from Captain E.J. Smith to assistant telegraphic operator Harold Bride, from shipbuilder Thomas Andrews to postman Oscar Woody. Other voices include nine-year-old Frankie Goldsmith, who hopes to find dragons on the journey, the ship rat ("follow the food"), and even the iceberg:
I am the ice; I am of water made.
That's why it's now of water that I speak:
Watch how the water licks Titanic's hull.
Hear how the water makes her rivets creak.
See how, before her trip even begins,
the water is obsessed with getting in. (p. 43)

This creative approach to writing about the Titanic really intrigued me and made this book a real page-turner. The reader follows the days leading up to the sailing, time at sea, the sinking, and the survivors' time on the Carpathia, the ship that rescued them. Wolf intersperses Titanic's journey with poems from the point of view of undertaker John Snow, as he works to retrieve the bodies from the sea.

This book is well-researched, and I learned new facts about the passengers and particulars about the ship, including morse code. Wolf provides character notes at the back of the book discussing liberties he took with certain people, in addition to translated morse code messages and a helpful bibliography.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy historical fiction and those interested in the Titanic. The Watch That Ends the Night is an engrossing read that connects the reader to the passengers and crew of the Titanic in a way that other books do not.