Publication date: September 2018
Review, short version: Three roses out of four.
Review, long version:
Isn’t it great to find a new author you really like?
By “new” I mean new to me. They’d written earlier books, but I just hadn’t discovered them.
But when I like that author, I go find those earlier books, and look forward to their next one.
Sometimes, though, after finding that author and reading a number of their books, I stop reading her or him. For various reasons, their books don’t appeal to me anymore. They keep writing basically the same book, and I get tired of it. Or they start writing a different type of book, and it doesn’t resonate with me. Or the book reads like they were rushing to meet their deadline instead of focusing on telling the story.
I’m not saying the authors I stop reading aren’t writing good books; I’m saying they aren’t writing books I’m interested in.
For various reasons, three authors whose books I’d stopped reading are Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig.
Then these three authors wrote a book together, The Glass Ocean.
I decided to give it a try.
This sounds contradictory since I’d given up on White, Williams and Willig, but the storyline intrigued me. Most of it takes place on the Lusitania, a British luxury ocean liner that was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine in 1915 during the first World War:
Of the 1,959 passengers and crew aboard Lusitania, 1,198 lost their lives including 128 Americans. Rumors and conspiracy theories have surrounded the Lusitania ever since, but that’s not the focus of The Glass Ocean.
Instead the focus is three female lead characters in two time periods: Sarah in 2013, and Caroline and Tess in 1915. The book moves back and forth between time periods and characters, but there’s none of the muddle that can sometimes happen when authors use this storytelling technique.
Sarah, 30, is an author and historian; Caroline, 24, the aristocratic wife of a wealthy merchant; and Tess, also 24, is a forger and grifter. They’re all connected and not just by the Lusitania, though the ship’s sinking as told through Caroline and Tess’ eyes is a highlight of the book.
The Glass Ocean is a great mix of history, intrigue, romance and suspense, and the surprises kept me guessing all the way through. I cared about the characters, and how they dealt with their lives, in both this century – and the last.
In the book’s Acknowledgments the authors refer to themselves as “Team W,” and I was curious as to why White, Williams and Willig, already three bestselling authors, would join forces. An online search didn’t answer my why, but I did learn that The Glass Ocean isn’t their only collaboration – in 2016 Team W published their first, The Forgotten Room.
That book debuted on The New York Times best seller list, so it looks like they hit that one out of the park, too.
Maybe I haven’t quite given up on White, Williams and Willig.