Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On a Cold Dark Sea” as Want to Read:
On a Cold Dark Sea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On a Cold Dark Sea

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,656 ratings  ·  293 reviews
On April 15, 1912, three women climbed into Lifeboat 21 and watched in horror as the Titanic sank into the icy depths. They were strangers then…

Con artist Charlotte Digby lied her way through London and onto the Titanic. The disaster could be her chance at a new life—if she hides the truth about her past. Esme Harper, a wealthy American, mourns the end of a passionate affa
Paperback, 279 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On a Cold Dark Sea, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Cathy Yes, this book has some surprises. There are a few small links between the movie with Kate Winslet and the actual historical sinking of the ship, Tita…moreYes, this book has some surprises. There are a few small links between the movie with Kate Winslet and the actual historical sinking of the ship, Titanic, but I thought these concepts added interest, rather than detracting from the overall picture.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,656 ratings  ·  293 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of On a Cold Dark Sea
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell is a historical fiction novel based around the sinking of the Titanic. Being a fan of fiction set around real life events I knew as soon as I saw this book that I needed to read it, especially being addicted to books centering around the Titanic.

The book is a completely fictional tale of three women who boarded the ill fated ship. The first section of the story introduces Charlotte, Esme and Anna in their own chapters that tell their stories of what even
DJ Sakata
Favorite Quotes:

…for the rest of his life, the pitiful tableau they formed was the first image that sprang to mind when he thought of the Titanic. The handsome young man in his evening dress, eyes haunted, one hand pressed protectively against his companion’s back. There was a girl hovering nervously behind them—a maid, by her cowed bearing and black dress. And then there was the lady, swathed in a fur coat over a shimmering green gown, a vision of ruined elegance.

Mr. Harper looked as if he had
4 Stars.

Elizabeth Blackwell has written a winner of a story with On A Cold Black Sea. Poor choices, consequences, redemption, love and the Titanic all packed into one satisfying story.

Charlotte Digby, Esme Harper and Anna Halversson are three very different young women. Charlotte, less than honest, Esme, spoiled and Anna, afraid to express her own wishes. Each of them is now in a life and death situation. How will their past lives dictate their present actions?

This is deftly written character
"It was very dark and very cold. We did our best in trying circumstances. We survived."

Here are a few things you should know...

* Surprisingly, there is no upstairs/downstairs romance. It seems like it’s a requirement whenever there is a story set on the Titanic that an aristocratic woman/man falls in love with a third class passenger man/woman. It’s a total given. So for there to be no such plotline was sort of a surprise for me.

* No one gets painted like a French girl.

* There is no one name
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Thank-you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read this Advanced Reader's Edition.

I seem to always enjoy any book I receive from Lake Union Publishing. This was no different. The story of three women who survived the Titanic sinking and were together on a Lifeboat for hours in the deep, dark, cold sea. The story is told in four parts. Before the tragedy, After, on the Lifeboat and the Aftermath years later. I really enjoyed all the different stories from all
Karen KK
I received this from in exchange for a review.

This story is told by three women. Con artist Charlotte Digby, wealthy American Esme Harper and Anna Halversson, a Swedish farm girl in search of a fresh start in America.

The research that was done came across as a very realistic portrayal of this well documented tragedy. And the background stories of the main characters made this an interesting and very readable story.

3.75 rounded up to 4☆
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: x-4-star, z2020-03

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Historical Fiction

I was looking for a historical fiction that involves the Titanic ship. There were many options to choose so I chose On a Cold Dark Sea. The book follows three different female protagonists, Charlotte, Esme, and Anna. Each character has her own story and all of the stories will be intertwined as the three will be on the Titanic ship.

The first part tells us the background story of each one of them and how they will end up being on board of the ship. The autho
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this read! I love Titanic history so I knew I wanted to read this. No major romantic scenes to spoil it either of which I am so thankful. I loved the pacing and the different timelines within the three characters: Charlotte, Esme and Anna. The author gave us background info on each woman thru 20 years after the tragic event. I think many of us who find themselves drawn to the Titanic always want to know more about what happened out there and what became of those who survived. Th ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
On a Cold Dark Sea is written in third person, with the narration being split between the three main characters, Charlotte, Esme and Anna. The story is then split into four parts, with each character getting a chapter each. The book is very easy to read and moves along at a steady place.

As mentioned above, the book centres on the three women, who all travel on the doomed Titanic as it makes its maiden and only voyage, The woman are remarkably different, Esme is the rich heiress in first class, C
Joy D
Historical fiction about three women on the same lifeboat after the sinking of the Titanic, their backstories, and their lives afterward. The three women are linked together by trauma. I felt the author did a decent job of developing the characters and giving them interesting quirks, each representing one “class” of passenger. Having just read a non-fiction account of the rescue effort, I noticed a few historical inaccuracies. I felt the author showed the after-effects of a traumatic experience, ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. So much better than I thought it would be. A delightful surprise with great writing.

As I started reading the characters seemed so familiar that, as I continued reading, I saw other characters from different books that I'd read before. The plot may have been different, but the characters were not. However, that view quickly changed as the lives of the characters became more complexed and, for me, intriguing. Overall, I enjoyed the story. It is one I'd read again because of the complexit
Christine Roberts
This book was an interesting and varied take on the Titanic tragedy. It's split into many parts and three different narrators, which makes the focus on the time during and immediately after the sinking less repetitive and drawn out. It also catches up with the survivors 20 years later, reflecting on their experiences with dealing with the grief and guilt.
I enjoyed this novel very much, I found it well written and well paced. The characters were strong, and varied, and the varying socioeconomic
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are two reasons this book interested me, one I love stories of the Titanic. I remember in the mid-80’s going to my grandma’s and seeing the National Geographic that had just come out with all the pictures after it had just been discovered. Pictures of the ship where if finally came to rest, the shoes lying on the ocean floor, the dishes still in stacks, the face from some little girl’s doll. Then I went to the Titanic Exhibit at the Science Museum in Chicago, which was very eye opening fro ...more
On a Cold Dark Sea is the story of three women who survived the Titanic, much of the first third of the book is devoted to telling the history of these women and I found that very interesting. It gave a great first impression, Charlotte, Esme and Anna were from different social classes on the ship (1st, 2nd and 3rd class passengers) and they meet on the lifeboat, I was anxious to see what happened and what lay ahead.

There was really nothing new to add to the Titanic story, I think we all know h
Stephanie (earlgreyreads)
On a Cold Dark Sea tells the story of three women who ended up on the same life boat together during the sinking of the Titanic. It alternates between points of view and time periods to describe each woman's life including who they were before boarding the ship, those they lost, and how the tragedy affected their lives after.

I really enjoyed the different perspectives told through each of the three women. It was interesting to read about, and I appreciated the opportunity to gain a better unders
Elizabeth (teacupsandfirereads)
I recently started getting into more historical fiction. What I like most is when it is realistic. On a Cold Dark Sea was just that. It is told from three distinctly different perspectives in four different times. This may seem like a lot, but I felt it was really well put together and portrayed. The story telling made it a nice and enjoyable read while giving you a better understanding of what happened. I believe a good amount of research was done to tell the story, which is great, rather than ...more
Obviously this book centers around the Titanic sinking. More specifically- if focuses on three women who survived the tragedy and their lives before, after, and (a brief time) on the ship. It reads like a true historical fiction- it's slow because there are details and events and emotions that must be built. It's similar to a British drama- slightly proper, slow builds, small twists, somewhat likable but very flawed characters...
I enjoyed how the author gave us a back story on each woman. The or
Sydney Young
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn into this story with an expert hand; I quickly came to care about each character. All so different, all with so much ahead of them, all sailing head-on with an iceberg that would change fates. I enjoyed the “testimonial” follow ups that trailed the beginning sections, and that the book dove deeper into the “after” lives of the main characters. Great job!

Yes, we’ve seen the Titanic, but this is well
done, will make you see it and care all over again.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4* https://greatreadsandtealeaves.blogsp...
I am always up for anything ‘Titanic’ related, some are good and some ... not so good. I am happy to say, that this is one of the good ones - a unique take on this infamous tale.

‘... men who did their duty and went down with the ship. It sounds like a noble sort of death, but it isn’t: it’s loud and painful and terrifying. No one surrenders to the water without a fight.’

For this particular tale, we have three women who survived the sinking of the Titan
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars...

The Titanic is my all time favorite movie, so when I read that this centered around the events of the Titanic I had to read it. This particular story is about three women, Esme, Charlotte and Anna and their experiences. Esme is a first class traveler on her honeymoon, while Charlotte who happens to be posing as a married woman is traveling in second class. Then there is Anna, she is traveling with Theo of her friends in third class. These three women come from very different walks of
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful different perspective on the Titanic tragedy. This book took the perspectives of 3 women 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class. The focus was more on how the events of that night changed their lives rather than the actual tragedy of the boat skinking being the main point. I loved how all three women were on the same life boat and how they stories all collided several years later.
Saturday's Child
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another novel that has a plot involving the Titanic, do I have to read it? Well, of course I do. Thanks to Goodreads and some of my friends on it I noticed this one and lucky for me I was able to find a copy of it in my local library.
*thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

4 stars.

Titanic?! Did someone say Titanic! Ohh my gosh yes. Right away I knew I had to have this book. Plus look at that cover! If that's not stunning to you then I just dont understand that. This story did not disappoint. It was gripping and interesting and I really enjoyed reading it. I did notice the few small references to the big, was it 1997, movie release which made me smile. The Tit
Rachel McMillan
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting exploration of three women from three different classes aboard the fateful Titanic.

The intensity of the first part of the book as it perfectly recaptures the events of April 15 (not to mention the opulence of the first class cabins and the crammed quarters of the lower class steerage) is just as suspenseful regardless of dramatic irony.

From there, Charlotte ( a con artist), Esme, a socialite with an illustrious love affair of a past and Anna carry on their lives as b
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I found out that this book was about the Titanic, I almost didn't read it. I've read books about the Titanic and seen the movie a dozen times so what could possibly be new that would interest me in another book on the subject. I will tell you strongly - I was wrong, very very wrong. This is another look at the story told in a unique and interesting way and based on deep research by the author. I loved this book!

The book is told in four parts about three main characters so in each section, w
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Yet another disappointing historical read (that makes two in a row for me. Sniff.). I think my issue with this book was the three main characters and their confusing stories. I think had one or maybe two of the women's stories been fleshed out, that would have been interesting. But the whiplash from 1912 to 1933 and the character hopping back and forth was just, confusing and pointless.

Also, the whole tagline "On April 15, 1912, three women climbed into Lifeboat 21 and watched in horror as the
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

Three women: Esme, Charlotte and Anna. All survivors of the Titanic whom have to bear the burden of being rescued when so many others didn't - including their loved ones.

Esme - born and married into wealth, returning to the United States on her honeymoon.

Charlotte - lower class English-woman who is seeking to escape her options in England.

Anna - in love with someone who has already immigrated to the
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a Cold Dark Sea is a beautiful work of historical fiction! I loved getting lost in this book. I have always been enthralled with the story of the Titanic and I loved this authors take on it. On a Cold Dark Sea focused more on the characters- their stories leading them to the Titanic, short snippets of them on the boat and the sinking, then their lives after. Their actual time on the boat is short while focus is put on each lady and their subsequent stories after being saved. Charlotte, Esme, ...more
I picked this book up on a whim, and I was surprised at how much I loved it. The story captured me from the start, and I became really invested in all the characters and storylines.

Charlotte was my favourite, I adored her resilience and intelligence, but I liked all three women and I appreciated how complex they were. None of them was a complete positive character: they had many negative traits and I often didn't agree with their decisions, but I still sympathized with them and cared for them. F
Whitney Ordemann
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! Loved this one. Told from 3 different women’s perspectives, but I found myself being able to relate to all 3 in some way. The beautiful writing and character development completely sucked me in. Slight surprises in all 3 stories when they are reconnected 20 years later.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell - 3 stars 5 15 Dec 27, 2018 08:39AM  
Play Book Tag: On A Cold Dark Sea, 4 stars 4 28 May 03, 2018 11:33AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Frozen
  • The Ocean Liner
  • The House at Mermaid's Cove
  • Whisper of the Moon Moth
  • The Uncertain Season
  • A Curve in the Road
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
  • Where Death Lies (Megan Rhys Crime Mystery Series)
  • American War
  • A Dangerous Goodbye (A Fen Churche Mystery #1)
  • The Skylark's Secret
  • The Red Pavillion
  • Fight or Flight
  • Broken
  • Titanic (Ghosts of Southampton, #1)
  • 223 Orchard Street
  • Residuum (Ghosts of Southampton, #2)
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
See similar books…
As the daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service officer, Elizabeth Blackwell grew up in Washington, D.C., interspersed with stints in Africa, the Middle East and Europe--pretty much always with a book in hand. She majored in history at Northwestern University (hooray! more reading!) and received her master's in journalism from Columbia University, which led to a career as an editor and writer for a numb ...more

News & Interviews

  Let’s say it now and say it proud: Horror is back.  This summer, as the world was thrown into uncertainty by a pandemic and our...
107 likes · 31 comments