3 out of 4 stars
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Tales of a Titanic Family by William Russo is a family history novel depicting the unfortunate deaths of Percival and Richard White on the Titanic and the effect it had on their remaining family members. This book revolves around the White family of four, although only two members perished in the Titanic tragedy. The aptly named White family had no relation to the White Star Line; however, when Percival purchased two tickets for the Titanic he thought the name coincidence was a sign of good luck. It soon became apparent he was very wrong indeed.
Percival White was a well-to-do businessman from Massachusetts. He, with his wife Edith, had two sons: Percy and Richard. Many of the pages in this book describe Percival’s business dealings which required the family to spend extensive time traveling to Hawaii, Europe, and all over the Eastern United States. Individual circumstances placed Percival and Richard in Europe at the same time which led to their fateful voyage together on the Titanic. The remainder of the book describes Edith and Percy’s attempt to pick up the pieces and cope with their loss.
This book is divided into four sections. Each section is dedicated to Percival, Edith, Richard, and Percy’s individual tales. When I initially picked up this book, I was excited to read what I expected to be an epic about the subjects’ time on the ship. There was, however, a significant amount of back story. There were only a few pages in each section dedicated to Percival and Richard’s time on the Titanic. Some of the back story seemed to drag on. The eye-witness accounts of the White men on the Titanic were interesting and raised several questions of how they both actually met their demise.
I mostly enjoyed this book. This family history is quite detailed. Due to each person having a section dedicated to them, there was some significant overlap in storytelling. There were no chapters which made reading the long sections rather tedious. Each section was peppered with pictures though, which broke up the huge blocks of text. The writing was well done. The author gave a great sense of who Percival, Edith, Richard, and Percy were.
I give Tales of a Titanic Family by William Russo 3 out of 4 stars. I had a hard time getting through some of the back story and thought that some of the information was irrelevant. The excess of information weighed down the story a bit. I also noticed a few grammatical errors. I did, however, find most of the story to be quite interesting. I had thought I would be most interested in the events on the Titanic, but I was more intrigued by the ripple effect. The changes in Edith and Percy’s life due to the loss of their husband, father, son, and brother was heart wrenching. The aftermath was easier to read than the back story. Despite the circumstances, the overall tone wasn’t as dark as the subject matter. The author was very matter-of-fact and didn’t sugar coat the grim happenings. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Titanic and family history novels.
Tales of a Titanic Family
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