The Midnight Watch: A Novel of the Titanic and the Californian – David Dyer

(Reviewed by Ishita RC)


The midnight watch: a time of loneliness, demons and trances.

The Titanic has been mentioned as one of the greatest man-made tragedies. While the movie has combined a tragedy with a love story , I found The Midnight Watch more intriguing and provoking.

The plot is a unique blend of facts and fiction and the unique narrative style helped to make the whole experience more realistic. As the Titanic and her passengers sank slowly into the Atlantic Ocean in the late evening of April 14, 1912, a nearby ship looked on as distress rockets were fired one after another. With the persistence of Steadman, a Boston journalist who was known for his follow up stories on those who died, the truth came out regarding the two ships on an ill-fated night.

The three icebergs had drifted astern but he could still see them, stately and tall and brilliantly lit. But he knew not all icebergs were like this. Some were low and grey, and tonight there would be no moon. He wondered how, during the dark hours of the midnight watch, he would be able to see them.

Such a simple and graphic line, and yet it describes everything that occurred on that fateful night. While the whole plot is based on the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the unsinkable ship, the best part of the book was towards the end where the author brought both the Titanic and the Californian together in a beautiful summation of their journey. I do not want to reveal it any further and spoil the whole effect, but trust me it’s worth it.

The simple and yet eloquent style of narration combined with the unique personal tone  largely contributed in making this book such a success. It might seem like those who work on ships have an easy way of life, at least in terms of money. But the author was able to capture the essence of the job so realistically that the book appeared anything but fictional.

The title of the book has been used as an effective tool for plot development, and also contributes to character development to some extent. The simplicity of the title echoes in its minimalist and dramatic cover image.

There’s not a single moment when you feel neglected as a reader. I would have preferred a better organization of all the chapters and parts to maintain a more coherent flow in narration. But that’s a very minute observation on my part.

I would definitely recommend The Midnight Watch to everyone.  It is an excellent book.

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