As the daughter of a drunk and abusive pig farmer, Tessa Bowen has known a life of poverty, squalor, and pain. Riches and fine clothes are things she can only imagine while trying to escape the muck-infested stall where she works every day. All that changes when Jacquie Abingdon enters her life. The daughter of a rich businessman, Jacquie wants to run away with the family’s gardener, but in order to do so, she needs someone to take her place on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. Tessa fits her needs perfectly.
Suddenly, Tessa is thrust into a world where wealth and luxurious garments aren’t a figment of her imagination. When she meets and starts to fall for one of her fellow passengers, Tessa finds herself struggling to maintain the rich façade she’s created with Jacquie. Things are only further complicated when the Titanic meets her tragic end.
In Queen of the Waves, Janice Thompson weaves a tale of deceit, loss, and ultimately hope and forgiveness all set to the backdrop of the Titanic, the majestic ship that for a century has captured the awe and interest of so many. I experienced very mixed feelings with this book. The novel held a lot of untapped potential. Several times, right as I thought a scene finally headed toward an emotion-gripping climax, the author would cut it and move on. Thompson also built up to several events only to have them occur off the page. Both of these left me feeling somewhat let down and disappointed.
In addition, readers looking for a romance should be aware that while there is one, it’s not the butterflies-in-the-stomach and starry-eyed kind. For that matter, Tessa and Nathan don’t even meet until halfway through the book and once they do, their affection feels more like something one would see between best friends or siblings. The transition from friendship to romance should have been further developed to make their profession of love less awkward and more believable.
That being said, the novel is a nice one-time read, especially if the reader goes into it knowing that its focus isn’t on the romance, but on Jacquie and Tessa’s decisions leading up to the horrible tragedy, as well as how the different characters react in the aftermath. Tessa is a sympathetic character and one wants to see her gain a chance at a better life. The book does offer as happy an ending as possible given the horrible, real-life circumstances surrounding it. Queen of the Waves is a story for Titanic and historical fiction fans.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!
**Originally posted on Radiant Lit.