The Watch That Ends the Night
By Allan Wolf
Expected publication October 11, 2011 by Candlewick Press
Sunday, April 14, 1912: The RMS Titanic collides with an iceberg and sinks, with two thousand people aboard. These are their voices.
I have kind of an obsession with novels in verse - I will read about pretty much anything if it's written in verse. And I really enjoy historical fiction. So this was a great combination for me. Wolf chooses about 24 different voices to represent the two thousand people aboard the Titanic. I think he selects a great cross-section of individuals: a young refugee girl, a man with his children on the run from his ex-wife, the millionaire John Jacob Astor, the "unsinkable" Molly Brown (who, surprising to learn, was never called Molly in her life), a young dragon-hunter, a large cross-section of employees - the captain, the builder, one of the businessmen, a baker, a mailman, a telegraph operator, the lookout, a violinist - the iceberg itself, and the undertaker who assisted with the recovery of bodies after the tragedy. Wolf has chosen some of the most interesting voices to guide his narrative (can you believe I never even knew Astor was on the ship?) and it flows easily and interestingly. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing this story from such a great variety of perspectives and, even though we all know how this story ends, the personal perspectives allow us to see the story in a new light. Now, we want to know which of these people survive the tragedy and which go down with the ship (with the exception of Margaret Brown, whose fate I think is universally known). Wolf also provides biographical details at the end of the book, to help readers separate fact from creative license. I think Wolf has done a tremendous job of making an old subject fresh again. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.