Pamela Todd's Reviews > And the Band Played On: The Titanic Violinist & the Glovemaker: A True Story of Love, Loss & Betrayal

And the Band Played On by Christopher Ward
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's review
Jun 06, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: biography, historical, non-fiction, read-in-2011

The instant I spotted this book, I knew I had to read it. Not only was it about one of my favourite moments in history, it featured around my home town, and one of the town's best loved heroic figures.

The author, the grandfather of Jock Law Hume, member of the Titanic band, started this book with no idea what it would become. The idea came as part of a family project tracing ancestors, but only when Ward realised how complex the history was, did he realise just how amazing a story there was to be told.

Grief, love, loss, betrayal, tragedy. The sinking of the Titanic did more than claim thousands of souls on board, it created a ripple effect of tsunami proportions for the ones unfortunate enough to be left behind.

When Jock, aged twenty one, boarded the ill-fated vessel, he left behind a pregnant fiancee, an estranged family and a community of people who loved him. Though the book is primarily about the author's grandfather, it does not end with his death. Rather the opposite. And the Band Played On is more about the people Jock left behind, and the way their lives were irrevocably changed after the sink went down.

I found the book to be immensely intriguing and very interesting - not to mention absolutely heartbreaking. It was odd to be reading a book and recognising all the places mentions (and even a few shivers at a few buildings mentioned where I used to work). More than a few times I had to put the book down as I couldn't see the pages through my tears. The author didn't hold back on anything, and instead unleashed the cataclysmic devastation that so many families felt in 1912.

Ward put me on the stern on the Titanic countless times, and threw me head first into the households of the Costin's and the Hume's - not to mention the ice deck of the Mackay-Bennett, the vessel charged with the immense task of retrieving the bodies the Titanic left in the Atlantic.

I cannot recommend this book enough. As the author said, a generation grew up with the shadow of the Titanic looming over them. I dare anyone to read this book and not feel the ship looming over them.
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