Author: Janice Thompson
Title: Queen of the Waves
Publisher: Summerside Press

With the one hundredth anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking upon us, the market has been flooded with Titanic-themed books. Christian novelists seem particularly drawn to the setting; maybe it’s that whole “the end is nigh” vibe they can’t resist. But in Queen of the Waves Janice Thompson manages to give us a charming novel that’s at once all about the Titanic and simultaneously not really about the famous ship at all.

It’s a study in contrasts: Tessa is a country girl eking out a hardscrabble existence on her family’s ramshackle farm. Her days are filled with back-breaking manual labor and the faint hope of avoiding her alcoholic father’s creative and cruel abusive streak.

Jacquie’s plush lifestyle couldn’t be more different; the pampered only child of a wealthy family, she lives in the lap of luxury. But Jacquie’s cage is just as confining as Tessa’s, especially when her father informs her he’s arranged her marriage to his future business partner. Roland is nice enough, if on the dull side, but Jacquie’s heart belongs to another—a man her father would never approve.

Faced with different but equally desperate situations, the two girls’ lives intersect and intertwine in a highly-readable tale of deception and double-cross that sends one on her way to a new life and leaves the other behind to a fate she never saw coming.

Thompson does a stellar job of creating characters we quickly grow to care about. In lesser hands Jacquie would have been a selfish, spoiled brat—but she’s not. Tessa could easily have been one of those annoying, saintly girls who exhibit unrealistic grace under pressure—but she’s not. Both our main characters and those around them are interesting, real people. Even the less-pleasant characters are sufficiently entertaining that the reader doesn’t mind spending time with them.

The great ship itself is a worthy character all on its own and Thompson brings it to life through the eyes of its passengers. She allows the reader to appreciate its grandeur and learn quite a bit about the ship and its many features without once sounding like a guidebook. Of course, knowing what we know now, every on-board encounter is laced with a sense of impending doom—but not because of any spoilers on the author’s part.

The spiritual aspects of the book are handled with comparable grace; explanations of the Father’s love and forgiveness are loving and conversational rather than preachy. Several characters exhibit their relationship with God, always in a natural, unforced way.

All in all, Queen of the Waves is a delight. Charming characters, an interesting plot, and a sweet spiritual side all wrapped up in an easy-to-read style. My only quibble is that one character’s fate (no names, no spoilers here) seems to have been left somewhat hanging . . . maybe we’ll get lucky and Thompson will pick up the story in a later novel. Even if future books take us on a different adventure, wherever this talented author heads next it will be worth going along for the ride.

*This Article First Published 10/18/2012