Today I am part of the blog tour for Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat. I was fortunate enough to dine with Caroline in March for our Ottawa Blogger Meetup. While there, she spoke with us about her upcoming book Unspeakable. It is an historical fiction novel about a shipwreck of the Empress of Ireland. This shipwreck actually happened after the Titanic and had many more casualties. It is one of the worst Canadian Maritime disasters in history but it often gets overlooked.
It was amazing to hear about all the research and details that went into this book. Without further ado, my book review.
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Publishing Date: May 6th, 2014
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Pages: 288 pgs
Source: Copy given to me by publisher for an honest review
Summary from Goodreads:
On her first voyage as a stewardess aboard the Empress of Ireland, Ellie is drawn to the solitary fire stoker who stands by the ship’s rail late at night, often writing in a journal.
Jim. Ellie finds it hard to think of his name now. After their wonderful time in Quebec City, that awful night happened. The screams, the bodies, the frigid waters … she tries hard to tell herself that he survived, but it’s hard to believe when so many didn’t. So when Wyatt Steele, journalist at The New York Times asks her for her story, Ellie refuses. But when he shows her Jim’s journal, she jumps at the chance to be able to read it herself, to find some trace of the man she had fallen in love with, or perhaps a clue to what happened to him. There’s only one catch: she will have to tell her story to Steele and he’ll “pay” her by giving her the journal, one page at a time.
My Review:The story is told in the narrative of Ellie, who is a stewardess on the boat. It goes back and forth between present day and the past (pre-boat disaster). In present day, Ellie is recounting her experience to Steele, a journalist. She is trying to find more information about the man she fell in love with.
I have to say that I quite enjoyed this story. I was a history minor and I really like reading historical fiction. I had never heard of this shipwreck so it's always nice learning something new. I also quite enjoy reading about Canada. It's fun to read about places you have been to. Some of the story takes place in Quebec City which is where I honeymooned. It's great being able to perfectly picture where the characters are walking around and exploring.
I also really liked Ellie. She was down on her luck and while she didn't exactly welcome her new role on the Empress, she did what she could with it. She is tenacious and she goes for what she wants. All this in a time when women were not exactly equal. She is not afraid of a little hard work if she really wants something. I also like that the story is not solely focused on tragedy. It is about rebuilding after horrible tragedy. She has an inner strength that many would not possess.
The secondary characters are also interesting. While we don't get to see much of Aunt Geraldine, what we do know about her is great. She is a woman living on her own in a man's world. I can see how some wouldn't like her but I did. She did what she thought she had to make it. I think that Ellie gets a lot of her qualities from her aunt.
Overall, this book was well written and fun to read. I would definitely recommend picking it up.