Review: Carpathia, Jay Ludowyke

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ms Ludowyke’s look at the story of the Carpathia is one to enjoy. The research has been detailed and thorough, and I was engrossed in the way the Carpathia came to the aid of the Titanic on that fateful night. My main grievance is the odd set-up where we jump backwards and forwards, though the author does say that she had reasons for setting the text up like that. As it is, I didn’t like it although I agree that it helped this version of the text somewhat — but the flow of events got muddled up.

I was led to this by the Mariner’s Mirror which is one of the few podcasts that I listen to for book recommendations. In the episode which introduced the book, the author described the moments when the radiographer came to the door of the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, and he, without a doubt, had his ship plunge into the icy waters. That depiction may sound compelling to many, but my background at sea gives this another dimension: from a hundred years on with technology at hand that Rostron could not have imagined, sailing into waters riddled with icebergs would still be a chilling quest. In Rostron’s day… well, as Ms Ludowyke brings out, if the captain had known, he wouldn’t have done it.

The podcast also focussed on the building of the Carpathia, but the book didn’t really cover that part. The story of the ship was very much the story of a ship at sea, with an odd beginning at Hadrian’s Wall. The vast majority of the book covered the Titanic event, but there were also episodes from the sinking of the Carpathia herself.

In addition to all of this, however, was also the story of the discovery of her wreck. This could have been clearer, with the author going to talk to some divers who went to the wreck in search of treasure. I feel like the story of the dives on its own would have been rather dull, so the author’s attempts to take bits and bobs of this and pepper the rest of the account with this was made primarily to keep a reader’s interest. Nevertheless, the look into diving—which could have been described more thoroughly with respect to the equipment—was a welcome description of underwater operations.

I enjoyed this. The story is a compelling and emotional one, but Ms Ludowyke’s style is also good. I don’t like the structure of the book, but it’s designed to keep the reader coming back.

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