Helen's Reviews > How to Survive the Titanic: or, The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay

How to Survive the Titanic by Frances Wilson
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 13, 2012

liked it
Read from March 21 to April 11, 2012

I finally received my ARC that I won on Goodreads (Thanks, Goodreads!) This is now queued up among my other to-read books. Someday I will have the pleasure of digging into the book in its totality- but for now, I merely offer first impressions. Judging a book by its cover (shame on me), I would say this looks pretty good. I love the sort of newspaper vibe the jacket design projects. The blurbs on the back are appealing, and I believe I will enjoy the perspective it promises to take. Instead of taking a broad, dry, and scholastic look at the Titanic as a whole, this focuses in on a single person, its owner, and the singular scandal that surrounded him. Just opening to a random page or two, I can tell that this is engagingly written and stuffed full of interesting information. We'll see if I'm write or wrong within the next few weeks.


Took me a bit longer to get around to this than expected; dreadfully sorry. I began reading today. So far, dense with tidbits and facts. It's obvious that Wilson did some heavy researching, reading through archives, and digging around. I am enjoying the many literary references too. Will continue this review once I actually finish reading.


The entire world seems to be conspiring against me reading this book. Right after I added the last tidbit, I misplaced my copy. It finally turned up as I was throwing everything on to my bed because the carpets were getting cleaned. This was the day before I left on a week-long mission trip to Belize, from which I got back yesterday. I put a little more reading time in during the flight back, but I had one of those annoying seatmates that never stops talking, not even to breathe. Which is kind of a pity, because I'm really liking what I've read so far.


It's done at last- and I must say I enjoyed it. Frances Wilson seems to be attempting to echo the author to whom he returns so often, Conrad. He weaves back and forth, revisiting quotes and squeezing every bit of possible meaning out of Ismay's jump as Marlow squeezed out of Jim's. And I will admit that toward the end the repetition and rather slow pace began to drag a bit; however, Ismay himself is simply one of the most dull individuals who ever lived, and so it's a miracle that the book is as enthralling as it quite often is. I enjoyed the short biography of Conrad's life, and the (exhaustively) detailed account of the inquiries.

I've heard that the Titanic is habit-forming; that its fans are more like fanatics; and I'm beginning to believe it. My curiosity is piqued, and I would like to read considerably more about the world's favorite disaster. Does anyone have any good books to recommend?

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read How to Survive the Titanic.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.