“The Midnight Watch” Might Be About The Titanic, But Trust Us, You’ll Actually Want To Read It
Many historical fiction novels that take place on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic try to re-create James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster hit of the same name. There’s usually a love story between two young adults that often ends in tragedy, and lots of clichéd romance. After a while, these tired old conventions become boring for fans of historical fiction.
However, David Dyer’s novel The Midnight Watch abandons those conventions, and weaves a heartbreaking story about how more of the doomed passengers could have been saved.
Dyer recounts the tale of Second Officer Herbert Stone, who was in charge of the midnight watch on the S.S. Californian, which was only a few miles away from the sinking ocean liner. He saw the distress rockets and alerted Captain Stanley Lord, but the captain ignored Stone.
Dyer uses the tenacious Bostonian journalist John Steadman as a bridge between two stories. One is told from the perspective of the S.S. Californian’s crew, while the other recounts the tale of a third-class family who perished in the sinking.
While the novel can be a bit slow-paced, Dyer patiently re-creates the Edwardian era for his readers. He also uses a third-class family as a way to showcase the tragedy of the R.M.S Titanic, especially since Captain Lord declined to help the ocean liner.
Steadman’s tenacity to uncover Stone and Lord’s shameful secret also highlights the real tragedy of the night: had the S.S. Californian responded to the distress calls, perhaps 1,500 souls would not have perished.
The Midnight Watch allows readers to re-live the tragedy of the R.M.S. Titanic, and explores how the tragedy was made worse because of the actions of two selfish men.