The Glass Ocean
By Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
Author Website: http://beatrizwilliams.com/
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe. . . .
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business . . . and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life. . . .
Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems. . . .
As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives . . . and history itself. (Goodreads)
The Glass Ocean weaves an almost seamless tale of three women, one hoping to start a new life, one hoping to mend her marriage, and one looking for inspiration, in two different centuries all connected by the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. It is a wonderful tale of love, loss, desire, and loyalty with nuggets of intrigue throughout.
I have enjoyed books by all three of the authors, including their previous collaboration The Forgotten Room, and was not disappointed in this outing. I love the turn-of-the-century time period with the backdrop of World War I. The opulent descriptions of the ship are spellbinding, the prestige, and arrogance, of the first class passengers contrasted with the lower class in sharp relief. Though I feel like The Glass Ocean is a romance at its core, the inclusion of treachery and skullduggery makes the tale so much more. Of course, as readers, we know the tragic fate of the RMS Lusitania, and I feel the characters’ ignorance of their doom lends a sense of tension. Getting to know these characters and learning their actions and feelings compelled me to keep turning the pages.
Told from the viewpoint of three different narrators, in less deft hands it could have been a jarring mess, but Williams, Willig, and White are master storytellers, and I think the novel’s flow and pace are well executed. I liked all of the characters, even the haughty ones, very much. The chemistry and bantering between Sarah and John is wonderful, at times laugh-out-loud funny. Robert is probably my favorite character. Getting to know him through his papers and the 1915 threads is a treat. I also enjoyed Sarah’s great-grandfather Patrick and would have liked to get to the man behind the always proper servant.
I highly recommend The Glass Ocean to any fan of historical fiction.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*