May 7, 2021 | Rome, Italy

Every Man for Himself

By | 2018-03-21T18:28:06+01:00 July 1st, 2007|Recent Reviews|

By Beryl Bainbridge

Abacus, 1997. 224 pages.

“There is no way of knowing how one will react to danger until faced with it.” Bainbridge has the uncanny ability to occupy historical fact as if she herself conjured it up. Here, the last few days of the Titanic’s maiden voyage represent the end of an age as seen fictionally through its actual protagonists (the ship’s captain, its designer, the White Star Line owner) and Bainbridge’s imagined facilitator, the adopted nephew of J.P. Morgan.

Her description of the iceberg collision is vivid: “A long drawn-out tearing , like a vast length of calico slowly ripping apart.” The rip, however, is deeper — always the case in fiction that uses the Titanic as a host. Hilary Mantel, writing in the Sunday Times, said it best: “… the cost of raising the Titanic is prohibitive: Bainbridge does the next best thing.”

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