Christian Fiction Books Reviews

Titanic Plot Doesn't Quite Sink Silvery Moon

  • Susan Ellingburg Contributing Writer
  • 2012 9 Apr
Titanic Plot Doesn't Quite Sink <i>Silvery Moon</i>

Author: Tricia Goyer
Title: By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Publisher: Barbour Books

Tricia Goyer reimagines the Prodigal Son story and sets it on the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage . . . and in her version, there’s a love triangle!

Amelia is a working-class girl gifted with a (second class) ticket to America by a potential suitor. Her adopted aunt comes along as chaperone and a male cousin was supposed to join them but was otherwise detained (by the police). As they’re boarding the ship, Amelia sees a would-be stowaway being tossed off the ship and impulsively gifts him with the cousin’s unused ticket. The stowaway turns out to be Quentin, the disgraced younger son of a wealthy family who may have lost his money, but not his charm. And so it begins . . .

There are many things to like about this story. For one, it’s a terrific tour of the Titanic. Amelia manages to wrangle a tour of the ship from a friendly crew member, an obvious device to show off the author’s extensive research, but highly interesting nonetheless. It’s also interesting to see the prodigal story through the eyes of both brothers and get a glimpse of how they felt after the ‘welcome home’ party was over. (You may recall things were a bit tense around the father’s house even as the fatted calf was on the grill.) Given the choice of the prodigal with a past or the good guy with an attitude, which brother is a girl to pick?

But even with all that going for it, I found By the Light of the Silvery Moon hard to love. For one thing, it seems simplistic; perhaps it’s designed for a younger reader? At times the whole prodigal son thing is heavy-handed, complete with dialogue lifted directly from Scripture. Then there are the stereotypes, as when wealthy first class passengers are shown as miserable folk but the third class quarters of the noble poor are filled with nothing but sweetness and light. In addition, some actions and dialogue seemed out of step with the times. The book also suffers from shoddy editing; random conversations appear more than once, often run together so it’s impossible to tell who’s speaking.

Then there’s our heroine: she’s a saintly girl, so beautiful that every man’s eye is drawn to her radiance, but she only cares about helping the less fortunate. Despite her economic situation, Amelia doesn’t care about wealth or privilege. Her only bad habit is a tendency to speak her mind while rushing to do God’s will—but even that can’t keep her from charming everyone with her wisdom and sunny disposition. Seriously? This paragon of perfection would benefit mightily from a few flaws to make all that sweetness easier to swallow.

Prodigal Quentin is much more interesting: a conflicted, wounded man who has learned (the hard way) the value of doing the right thing, doing his best to overcome his troubled past. To her credit, the author does not give him an instantaneous transformation, but instead shows him on the road to redemption.

This being the Titanic, imminent disaster looms over every page. No spoilers here, but there is a lovely little twist during the crisis. On the whole, I felt the pros and cons of this book pretty much balance each other out. Fans of Goyer’s previous work and those interested in the Titanic will probably enjoy it. Recommended with reservations.