The Midnight Watch by David Dyer
“On the starboard bridge wing he saw the captain standing alone, erect and still, pulling his cap tighter on his head, lest it be blown off by the wind. ‘I told him,’ Stone whispered to himself. ‘I told him.‘” -The Midnight Watch
Hey guys! So I’m in a book club (I know big surprise right?) and The Midnight Watch was our January pick. This haunting novel illustrates the story of the Titanic and the Californian. For those of you who are not schooled in Titanic history (which I most certainly was not when I picked this book), the Californian was the steamer who allegedly watched idly, as the Titanic sank the night of April 14, 1912 after striking an iceberg.
This is, in my opinion, a strikingly well written piece of historical fiction. I find the subject of the Titanic fascinatingly tragic and reading Dyer’s re-imagined tale of what may have been happening aboard the only steamer which could have realistically saved everyone aboard the Titanic, makes it even more-so.
Now I would like to add a disclaimer that while finding this book incredibly compelling, I also battled extreme frustration along the way. Let me explain. I found this book to have one of the worst cases of dramatic irony I have ever encountered. Granted, it is historical fiction, so it’s loosely based on actual occurrences (that we know the ultimate result of), but the way Dyer writes it takes it a step further. You are given a glimpse into several characters’ experiences that night and the days/weeks/years that follow, giving a complete view of what was happening in all aspects of the timeline from several different perspectives. So while one character has no idea what is happening to another, you as the reader are acutely aware of every fault and mistake that was made along the way.
With a story such as the Titanic’s, it makes it so much more sad to imagine that had only one or two things been done differently that night, history may have had one less tragic tale to tell. But such is life. The frustration, I admit, did compel me to continue reading what was overall a great novel.
The Midnight Watch is very well written, giving the reader a tragic, suspenseful, page-turning experience that, if you have any interest in the Titanic or historical fiction (or just an overall good book), I would highly recommend.
I would also like to add that I listened to part of this as an audio book, downloaded off of Audible. As much as I prefer to read a physical book, sometimes it is not possible/practical to do so (I get carsick, so reading on car rides is impossible). The one that I bought off of Audible.com was very good. I find that sometimes the narrators make audio books hard to enjoy, but I felt this one did a great job. Just food for thought if audio book is more your style or you’re going on a long roadtrip or something.
Have you read this one? What did you like or dislike about it? I don’t expect everyone to share my views on it, so please comment, even if you hated it. I always love to hear how other people view books that I have also had the pleasure (or displeasure) of reading. And as always, I am constantly in search of a new book, so please feel free to share suggestions as well!