Monday, August 27, 2012

Mone, Gregory. Dangerous Waters.

Mone, Gregory.    Dangerous Waters.       Macmillan/ Roaring Brook Press 219p $16.99      978-1-59643-673-2       ms/jr       Good  Historical Fiction

Patrick finds an opportunity to work on board the Titanic to impress his brother, who is a trimmer (coal shoveler) in the engine room. Patrick is trying to dismiss his own preferred intellectual pursuits in order to "be a man" in a physically demanding job.  Titanic heads out on her maiden voyage, and Patrick is transferred above decks, as he cannot keep up with the physically demanding post of trimmer.  After he captures the eye of the wealthy Harry Widener, Patrick graduates from emptying spittoons to becoming Widener’s personal assistant. 

Another passenger, the unsavory Mr. Rockwell, has his eye on one of Widener’s rare books, which he is convinced contains the secret to infinite wealth.  He attempts to recruit Patrick to let him "borrow" the book, offering him a large sum of money to betray Widener.  Patrick is faced with a moral dilemma, which soon becomes insignificant in the face of disaster.  Titanic’s tragic ending is handled with sensitivity.

In the wake of Titanic’s demise, Harry Widener’s mother donates a substantial sum to Harvard to start a library in honor of her son. (This is based on actual events.)  To bring the story full circle, Patrick, now an older, educated man himself, places a volume of Francis Bacon, once the center of a controversy between Widener and Rockwell, to Harvard to be incorporated into the library’s collection.

Titanic-Fiction, Historical Fiction                   --Hilary Welliver

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