Friday, 11 May 2012

By the Light of the Silvery Moon - Tricia Goyer


PROS: Interesting take on the parable of the prodigal son; really captures the essence of what it was like to be onboard the Titanic

CONS: Hero and heroine fell in love too fast for it to be believable; some characters were underdeveloped; preachy in places

Amelia Gladstone and Quentin Walpole are both looking forward to making a new start in America, and the first step in their journey is taking a trip on the Titanic. But while Amelia’s ticket has been paid for by a potential suitor hoping to meet her and her aunt when they arrive in America, Quentin is thrown off the ship when he attempts to sneak onboard. Amelia can never ignore a need, but she doesn’t imagine how her life will change when she hands Quentin her spare ticket. Not only is this trip the start of a whirlwind romance with Quentin, but Amelia’s discoveries about her new friend help her to reunite him with his long-lost family, who are also onboard the Titanic. Soon Amelia is swept into the life of the first class passengers on the ship, dancing and dining with Quentin’s older brother, Damian, while Quentin struggles in deciding whether or not he should reintroduce himself to his family. And if he doesn’t, is he worthy of Amelia’s time and love? But very soon, Amelia and Quentin will have much harder problems to deal with, ones which could tear them apart for ever.

When looking at this spring’s new releases, it almost seems as if every publisher in existence was trying to put a Titanic novel on the shelves. When it came to deciding which book I wanted to read to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic, By the Light of the Silvery Moon was an obvious choice, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed some of Tricia’s previous novels. But while I had high hopes for her writing and storytelling abilities, I was a bit cautious when it came to fitting a love story into the short space of time from the Titanic leaving Britain and coming to its sad demise only a few days later.

Ultimately, I was very satisfied with By the Light of the Silvery Moon. I came to care about the characters and could feel my heart thudding during the scene in which the ship sank. I can’t even begin to mention the amount of detail that Tricia put into the descriptions of the cabins, dining rooms, clothing and food onboard the Titanic. Tricia definitely did a lot of research into what it was like travelling on the Titanic and I could easily imagine many of the scenes that she described. But I feel that there were some aspects of the characterisation and romance that felt a little underdeveloped, which is only natural when you’re trying to fit so much into such a short space of time.

Anyone who reads my reviews will know that I’m just not a big fan of love-at-first-sight stories. I kid you not when I tell you that the first time I saw my fiancé, I turned to my friend and said “He looks a bit weird, doesn’t he?” We did not have a fairytale romance, and I’m okay with that – real life is not that perfect. But a romance onboard the Titanic is definitely going to be along this vein, which I anticipated when I started reading this book. I had to try to make myself forget that Amelia and Quentin had only known each other for a few days when they described the strong emotions that they felt for each other. Ultimately, I did enjoy reading about their relationship and was rooting for them in the end, but I didn’t find how quickly they fell for each other to be entirely plausible.

When it came to Amelia on her own, I did really like her character, even if she seemed a bit too perfect at times. I was worried that Amelia didn’t have any flaws, until her aunt challenged some of Amelia’s notions about love and marriage. I had to be similarly challenged about my romantic ideals a few years ago so I could definitely relate to this part of the book. The section in which Amelia mused over her dilemma over whether to settle for someone stable, like her potential suitor in America, or risk her love on someone who has made a lot of mistakes in their life, like Quentin, was one of the most realistic and touching scenes relating to Amelia and Quentin’s relationship.

While I did like the fact that Quentin and Damian’s story was a retelling of the parable of the prodigal son – although I’ll admit, it took me a while to realise the inspiration behind this part of the plot – I wish that Damian’s character had been developed further. I knew that he was the villain of the story but I wish that Tricia could have delved deeper into what made him such a hateful person. There were some hints of jealousy and rivalry between the brothers, and bitterness because Damian associated their mother’s death with Quentin, but these hints weren’t developed enough to let me see Damian as a truly believable character. Although Damian managed to redeem himself in the end I still felt like something was missing from his part of the story.

When it came to the spiritual aspects of By the Light of the Silvery Moon, I liked the idea of Quentin learning that he needed to forgive himself in order to restore his relationship with God, but I wasn’t so keen on the execution of this part of the plot. The scene in which Quentin finally talked to God and asked for forgiveness was just a little bit too cheesy for my liking. Some of the spiritual sections of this book, particularly the conversations between Amelia and Quentin, were realistic, but others verged on too sermon-like. I was actually surprised at the way that Tricia dealt with the spiritual issues in this book as the spiritual aspect of her Big Sky series was what made me love it so much, but her approach in By the Light of the Silvery Moon seemed entirely different. I also have to mention that I’m honestly convinced that every single character that Amelia came into contact with on the Titanic was a Christian. Even in 1912, I didn’t see this as at all realistic. Please correct me if you find a character in By the Light of the Silvery Moon that doesn’t have some sort of relationship with God, but this is the way that it seemed to me when I was reading this book.

Ultimately I found By the Light of the Silvery Moon to be an enjoyable love story set onboard the Titanic. As far as I could tell, the details about the ship and its sinking were accurate and really made the story come to life. Tricia’s strengths definitely lie in her ability to research and recreate a scene.. While I did struggle with how quickly Amelia and Quentin came to fall for each other, this may just be a matter of personal taste, and I’m sure that some romance readers won’t let this deter them. By the Light of the Silvery Moon didn’t quite live up to some of Tricia’s previous novels, namely in the character of Damian and the heavy-handedness with the spiritual sections of the novel, but  those looking for a romantic, dramatic retelling of the sinking of the Titanic won’t be disappointed.

Review title provided by Barbour.

No comments:

Post a Comment