Julia Jones, Yachting Monthly's literary reviewer discusses Rescuing Titanic by Flora Delargy
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This is the first narrative picture book from Flora Delargy, a young artist from Belfast.
Delargy’s grandfather and great-grandfather both worked in the city’s shipyards.
The central character of her story, however, is not the city’s famous Titanic, but the smaller, less distinguished Carpathia built in England at Wallsend (Liverpool).
Rescuing Titanic tells the story of the Carpathia’s dash through the night after her wireless operator Harold Cottam had, almost accidentally, received a message from the Titanic that she had struck an iceberg and was sinking fast.
Carpathia was 58 miles away with a top speed of 14 knots.
Her Captain, Arthur Rostron, had to make a series of courageous practical decisions to enable his ship to exceed her maximum speed, prepare to retrieve possible survivors and dash through the icefield in the dark, without alarming his own sleeping passengers.
He must have known that he was endangering their lives as well as his own ship and crew.
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The book’s subtitle ‘a true story of quiet bravery in the North Atlantic’ is fully justified.
The Carpathia was too late to witness the Titanic’s final plunge but her arrival in the early hours of morning enabled her to rescue all 706 survivors from lifeboats in the icy sea.
They were cold and traumatised.
As well as offering immediate care, the crew then needed to begin taking the names of survivors, sending telegrams back to the White Star line and beginning to commemorate the dead.
The shelves of Titanic literature are full of mistakes made, drills missed, obligations unfulfilled.
It’s a delight to add this warm and positive human document.
Rescuing Titanic is intended for younger readers, with plenty of educational explanations of crew functions, signalling procedures and the practicalities of rescue (eg canvas bags prepared to lift children aboard).
I confidently predict that it will be much appreciated by their older relatives as well.
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