cover image Surviving Savannah

Surviving Savannah

Patti Callahan. Berkley, $26 (432p) ISBN 978-1-984803-75-7

In the gripping latest from Callahan (Becoming Mrs. Lewis), a professor uncovers the history of a steamship disaster that has intrigued her for years, as well as that of a woman who was said to have died in the disaster. Everly Winthrop grew up on stories of the 1838 sinking of the Pulaski, a luxury steamship that went down off the coast of North Carolina, killing 128 people. Among the dead was believed to be a woman named Lilly Forsyth, about whom Everly’s grandfather told fabulous tales. Everly, now a professor of history, jumps at the chance to curate an exhibit featuring recently found remnants of the Pulaski. As she prepares for the exhibition, the story switches between 1838 and the present day as Everly uses artifacts from the shipwreck to track down records of a woman who survived and, as Everly learns, seized the opportunity to leave behind her abusive husband and take a new identity. In the 1838 timeline, Lilly reluctantly boards the Pulaski with 11 members of her extended family, escapes on a lifeboat, and grapples with the pressure of returning to her aristocratic life. While Lilly’s story is moving, Callahan’s portrait of Everly drives the story, bringing to life a little-known shipwreck in meticulous detail. Fans of Southern historicals should check out this engrossing, centuries-spanning tale. (Mar.)