Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Book review: Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat
Unspeakable is a historical novel based on the sinking of the ocean liner Empress of Ireland in 1914, and is published just in time for the hundreth anniversary of the disaster. Over a thousand people died, but unlike similar shipwrecks such as the Titanic (the most famous of all) or the Lusitania, this disaster seems to be relatively unknown.
The book goes back and forth in time, telling the story of the fictional main character Ellie's life before, during, and after the disaster. Ellie is an eighteen-year-old young woman from England, and it was her first voyage working as a stewardess on the ship. She had a shipboard romance with Jim, who was working as a stoker and who she assumes was lost in the disaster. Prior to the voyage, Ellie suffered a great personal loss, and what happened is slowly revealed as Ellie is interviewed about her experience by a reporter and thinks back on the voyage and the circumstances that led to her leaving home and getting a job as a stewardess.
Unspeakable is a very well written book about a lesser known historical tragedy, but more than that, it is also the story of Ellie's personal journey. Recommended for readers who enjoy young adult historical fiction.