When I read the first chapter it had real humour and real people having a good time in a punt on a river in Cambridge, England. Jolly good fun, easy reading and the germ of the idea of rebuilding Titanic comes about easily after a riverbound contratemp with a another punt. Intriguing, I thought, and read on.
I realised quite quickly that I had been snared by the author into being absorbed by moves in financial markets in the late 90's virtually compelling a major finance house to follow the President's son's astonishing idea to make an authentic copy of the original vessel and sail her again.
But, while construction moves on, there are gremlins creeping in. History is perhaps trying to repeat itself as the captain has to be hospitalised at the last moment and a replacement has to be substituted; Captain Smith.
The new Titanic is a mirror image of her original except that that todayís technology and more has been brought on board and hidden away from the passengers and some modifications to the quantity of lifeboats carried have been made along with other technical changes so that the vessel complies with current regulations; after all which surveyor would want to sign off on a vessel called Titanic if something went awry a little later on. There is a great deal of detail and some little known facts revealed in the book which I found fascinating. I thought Iíd read it all before.
But what makes the Titanic live? Its passengers, its crew and the frothy euphoria as the vessel sets sail. This time the mix of passengers is quite different from the mix in 1912. You can be sure that the millionaires will be on board, no emigrating hoards - times have changed; no third class. An interested and aspiring middle class holds the bulk of the extortionately priced tickets, many of them piqued that they cannot afford first class and have little alternative other than to go along on the guided tour of First and the Bridge. Their greatest affront is the careless wealth of a national lottery winning working class couple who have brought their rough and tumble TV addicted kids on board and who seem to be everywhere at once, even if you canít see them - you call still hear them.
The book focuses on various themes from time to time and is often seen through Emmaís eyes, a feisty young lady whose idea started the project and whose acquaintance set up the finance along with a former boyfriend who dumped her. This makes for an awkward situation for her as sheís on board on a second class ticket, periodically invading First and winding up being invited by the owners to dine. Desperately keen to follow her own passion for Titanic she is equally certain she doesnít want to come face to face with her ex.
The story certainly has me gripped from the first chapter with its unlikely, funny start and with the empathy with the major players. The working class Baxters are definitely the people to hate, the people from hell in the most expensive suite on board, but somehow they are vulnerable in their own way. There is a sense of foreboding about the book which reminds you of this vesselís namesake and its unexpected vulnerability. Titanic is sailing the same course as the original in order to lay a wreath at the original crash site where a Ďresearchí vessel is sending tourists down to the wreck of RMS Titanic. The new Titanic cannot be caught out by icebergs because of its computerised navigation and safety equipment and clearly it isnít vulnerable in the same way as the original, yet one senses that its fate is also written in the stars and that although it was absolutely necessary to name the vessel Titanic for commercial reasons, maybe this was an ill-judged move.
In the end I just couldnít put it down, I had to read it all the away to the end, and thatís the reason that we published it. Even having finished it I went back over it several times and, far from being bored, I found more and more that I had missed first time. I was sure I hadnít skimmed over it but there several stories all in one here and a powerfully written one running through them all along with vivid descriptions of Titanic. I sincerely hope that you find the same when you pick it up too.