The Midnight Watch - David Dyer
When this volume popped thorough my letterbox from Real Readers I was ecstatic!! This could not have been a more appropriate choice of book for me. Long have I been a student of the Titanic, the history of the ship and all the events surrounding it before, during and after the tragedy. I have even had the unbelievable privilege, many years ago, of meeting a Titanic survivor which I still regard as one of the highlights of my life. (She had very strong opinions about Captain Lord).
This novel tells the story of the Californian and her captain Stanley Lord, no spoiler I don't think as history documents his part well.
And so I loved this book. I accepted it as an historical, fictional account of a controversial aspect of the whole Titanic phenomenon. The details were known and familiar to me. So I responded to the authenticity of the research. I enjoyed the fact that the writer has placed it within a broader social context as it is sometimes too easy to look at an historical event in isolation. I took delight too in the human aspects of this fiction; we have the public perception of many of the persons featured in this history but the writer attempts to burrow beneath that and encourages us to see them as people, human beings with their strengths and their weaknesses. All this, too, from a debut novel? Can it get any better?
But…. (There had to be a but didn't there? ) How much appeal will this book have to anyone with scant knowledge of the Titanic? Does the book have enough momentum to keep an indifferent reader satisfied? I’m not sure it does. Publication date is due to coincide with the anniversary of the sinking, that may propel it along a little further. But if I am to be objectively honest I doubt this book has a wide appeal. It is very well written and I think Titanic ‘fans’ (for want of a better word) will lap it up but beyond that I fear appeal and interest will be limited. I would love to be wrong though. And I hope I am.