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Chicklit on the Titanic

Updated on March 17, 2015
Adele Jeunette profile image

Adele Jeunette has been a librarian for 20 years. She lives in Denver, not too far from the Molly Brown house.

This site lists chick lit which features the Titanic steamship.
This site lists chick lit which features the Titanic steamship.

Romance, History, and Colorful Characters

Romance fits in naturally with the Titanic saga, and you'll find listed here the newest novels that use the Titanic as a backdrop.

But you'll find more:

--An engaging classic

--A fascinating book about the food and recipes from the voyage

--The "rest of the story" of the women and children who survived the Titanic

--The real story of the colorful and outspoken "unsinkable" Molly Brown

--and a luscious PBS series that re-creates the world of Edwardian society.

Romance, Science, and Spiritualism

Most people think of turn-of-the century America as quaint and stodgy, but this engaging novel presents a more nuanced picture of the possibility and exuberance of the era. People were just getting acquainted with amazing new inventions: electric lights that lit up the room without fire, messages that could be sent over great distances on the airwaves.

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic
Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic

Since this is a story of five sisters whose mother is a famed clairvoyant, it may at first seem that this book is a paranormal fantasy. Mediums and s�ces were all the rage during this time period. But the story keeps one foot solidly planted in science and introduces us to the tug-of-war – as well as the overlap – that existed between scientists and spiritualists of the day.

Early on, we meet Nikola Tesla, now recognized as one of the great geniuses of the last century and gaining his due along with contemporaries Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison. Tesla, a brilliant and eccentric man with a photographic memory, is now credited with patents and theoretical work that laid the groundwork for commercial electricity, the radio, and wireless communication. It also appears that one of his inventions set off a small earthquake in New York City, an event which becomes central to the plot.

The author leaves it up to the reader to decide whether there is anything to all the spiritualism talk. She explains the tricks that mediums and spiritualists use to con their customers (Harry Houdini took special delight in debunking supernatural claims.) But many people who survived the Titanic sinking have stories of eerie portents that signaled the Titanic's fate, and these are used to great effect to add suspense to the story.

Reading this book, we meet a virtual who's who of the era: in addition to Tesla, the girls meet the famous millionaire John Jacob Astor, mystery author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, magician Harry Houdini, and the British journalist W. T. Stead. It's a book that has a little bit of everything: romance, class distinction, science, family secrets, politics, and a famous disaster.


Fashion, Pluck, and the Privileged

Most novels with the Titanic backdrop focus on the voyage and the drama that surrounds the collision with the iceberg. This book uses the Titanic's sinking as a launching pad to explore how a person proceeds after such an event.

The Dressmaker
The Dressmaker

Our spunky heroine is Tess, a young woman and aspiring seamstress, who takes her future into her own hands when she leaves the life of service in a wealthy house and strikes out for America. By luck, she meets the renowned Lady Duff Gordon and manages to be taken on as an assistant just before the Titanic sets sail.

Onboard she meets two men, both quite attractive, but different in terms of wealth and outlook. But when the Titanic sinks, her life gets much more complicated.

The story is centered on the real-life controversy surrounding Lady Duff Gordon. There was talk that she escaped the sinking ship in the so-called "millionaire's life boat" which carried only a few wealthy passengers along with several crew members

Tess works her way through moral and romantic conundrums with an unlikely friend, an equally spunky New York Times reporter, Pinky Wade.

It's an engaging story, though at times Lady Duff Gordon seems a bit too mercurial even for a rich and privileged woman.

Still, it's an enjoyable read that explores a fascinating time in history.


Paranormal Romance and Danger

Fans of paranormal romance will find here an engaging heroine, a convincing setting, and an appropriately smoldering romance.

An Acknowledged Classic

An engaging and brief (150 p.) book, this is the classic account of the night the Titanic sank.

A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic (Holt Paperback)
A Night to Remember: The Classic Account of the Final Hours of the Titanic (Holt Paperback)

Here are some of the compelling factoids you will learn from this book:

*"Even the passenger's dogs were glamorous." JJ Astor had an Airedale named Kitty, Henry sleeper Harper had a Pekingese named Sun Yat-sen, and Robert W. Daniel brought along a champion French bulldog.

*Wireless communication at the time was still "an erratic novelty." Titanic's wireless was kept busy sending frivolous personal messages for the passengers. At the time, no one really appreciated its potential as a life-saving device.

*The things that survivors chose to carry with them were both poignant and sometimes befuddling: two gold watches, a musical toy pig, a Bible, books, four oranges.

*The story of Ida Straus, wife of one of the founders of Macy's department stores, who chose to leave the lifeboat and stay with her husband, even though they were sure to drown. In his will, Straus had specified that his wife should do a little something for herself, but her last act was to give up her life so that she could stay with her husband.

If you read only one book about the Titanic, this one should be your choice. It is a compelling and fast-paced account that has withstood the test of time.


The Dining Experience on the Titanic

Even if you never intend to prepare any of the recipes in this book, it is still worth perusing for its descriptions and illustrations of the food and daily life among the first class and crew .

Last Dinner On the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner
Last Dinner On the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner

After the introductory chapter, the author includes a discussion on "Choreographing a First-Class Titanic Dinner." Here he talks about what would have been served as appetizers, how the passengers were summoned to dinner (a bugler played a rendition of the tune "The Roast Beef of Old England") the style of music that was played (he includes a list of recommended CDs), and a description of how the passengers occupied themselves after dinner.

Most of the recipes are surprisingly easy with accessible ingredients, ranging from "Curried Chicken and Rice," to "Ch�au Potatoes," to "Cream of Barley Soup." For the most part, chef Dana McAuley uses ingredients that can commonly be found in the US, though many cooks may have trouble finding duckling or foie gras.

Most recipes include an entertaining little description about the background of the dish, discussing how it would have been served on the Titanic.


Life for Women Who Survived

It's easy to get caught up in the drama of the Titanic and see it just as a grand story: the glamour, the rich and powerful, the ship speeding towards its destiny and a tragic end.

But many of the survivors refused ever to speak of that night again. And in this book, you find why. It was an experience that destroyed people's lives, damaging the survivors as surely as those who went to their death.

Titanic: Women and Children First
Titanic: Women and Children First

But many of the survivors refused ever to speak of that night again. And in this book, you find why. It was a horror that destroyed people's lives, damaging the survivors as surely as those who went to their death.

The lives of the male survivors are well documented. Many of them were called to testify at the hearings in America and Britain, and quite a few of them wrote books or articles about their experiences.

But no one talked to many of the women (Margaret Brown was an exception because she was so outspoken), and their stories have receded into history.

Geller has done a prodigious amount of research to chronicle the lives of many of the women and children who survived the sinking of the Titanic. Here we find a variety of women: first-class, second-class, third class, with a variety of talents, hopes and dreams.


Margaret Brown: Colorful, Compassionate Activist

Margaret Brown was a woman well worth getting to know, and this biography is one of the best at bringing the practical, generous, and spirited woman to life.

Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth
Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth

Margaret Brown was many things: wealthy, outspoken, colorful and compassionate. But she was never called "Molly." The pundits, gossips, and Hollywood mythmakers who dubbed her the "Unsinkable Molly Brown," got the "unsinkable" part correct, but they misrepresented her life when they spun tales of her as a country hick desperate for a society's approval.

This biography is an eminently readable and enjoyable description of the life of a woman who appreciated her fortune, lived a good life, and worked tirelessly to help others. The ending chapter provides a fitting closure: after reassuring her family that she was alive and well, Margaret stayed on board to help the women who had no one to meet them at the harbor. everyone is taken care of.


Downton Abbey: a Series Set in the Titanic Era

Although this popular series is not directly about the Titanic, it is set in the same time period and immerses viewers in the social and historical milieu of the Edwardian era.

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 1
Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 1

Although this popular series is not directly about the Titanic, it is set in the same time period and immerses viewers in the social and historical milieu of the Edwardian era.

The sinking of the Titanic contributes to the central dilemma faced by the wealthy family who inhabits Downton Abbey. The heirs were lost in the sinking, and none of the daughters can inherit the estate. They find a distant relative whom they hope will marry one of the daughters, but conflict arises.


Companion Book to Downton Abbey

This book on the making of Downton Abbey is great fun for fans of the series.

The World of Downton Abbey
The World of Downton Abbey

If you have ever wondered what motivates the characters on Downton Abbey, Jessica Fellows has assembled this book to explain the attitudes and concerns of favorite characters in their historical and social context.

This volume includes lots of lovely photos and lots of behind-the-scenes tidbits.


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