Orphans of the Storm

Celia Imrie. Bloomsbury, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-1-63557-788-4
Imrie (the Nice Series) returns with an engaging if drawn-out story based on two boys who were rescued from the Titanic. In 1911, Marcella Navratil, age 21, secretly visits a solicitor in Nice, France, to seek a divorce from her husband, Michael. Ever since the birth of their second child, her overriding thought has been to leave Michael and protect herself and the boys from his physical abuse. The story goes back in time to Marcella’s first days in Nice at 16 when she plans to become a famous singer, but is persuaded by her Italian parents to learn sewing. Michael is her teacher, and it isn’t long before they’re involved. He manipulates her into marrying him at 17 without her parents’ permission, and though their marriage is happy at first, Michael becomes increasingly abusive and Marcella fearful and lonely. The narrative’s first half is nearly sunk with extensive, sometimes gratuitous depictions of Michael’s demeaning behavior, but things pick up after Michael goes on the run with the boys and boards the Titanic with them, while Marcella pursues. A New York City debutante, Margaret Hays, narrates a portion of the voyage, and during the rescue operation, Margaret and the boys are fatefully joined. Despite the unnecessary length, this casts vivid light on a little-known chapter of the tragic voyage. Agent: Robert Kirby, United Agents. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/20/2021
Release date: 12/14/2021
Genre: Fiction
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