Titanic fiction Which novels were the best


Feb 14, 2011
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I have never been fond of Titanic fiction, with the exception of two books-
"Raise the Titanic", which I read over and over as a boy, in the years preceeding Titanic's discovery.

I also enjoyed "In Memory Of Eva Riker".
In that book, there is an amazing scene of a person escaping a cabin despite being in a cabin flooded to the ceiling.

Of course we can't forget Morgan Robertson's 'Wreck Of The Titan'- a rather dry tale that predicted the Titanic disaster, right down to the name of the ship (minis the 'ic')


Over the years Ive had multiple copies of Robert Prectyl's 1940 novel "Titanic", but could never find the motivartion to finish reading it..

.The real story of Titanic is so much more interesting that Titanic fiction.

What do you all think of Titanic fiction?

I recall reading a soap opera romance book, where a person cancelled passage on Aquitania (!!!!) in order to procure a ticket for Titanic.( they must have been time travelers..)

Danielle Steele gets a Falling Funnel award for her crappy Titanic novel....


Tarn Stephanos
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Tarn, unfortunately, there are not enough Falling Funnels for all the bad Titanic fiction. the sad truth is that most Titanic-related fiction is mediocre to just plain aweful. like you, I much prefer nonfiction books, but from what others have said, apparently the worstest of the worstest is Shannon O'Cork's 1988 book Ice Fall (it was reprinted a decade later with a new title: Titanic a Love Story). it apparently has both Captain Smith and Lord of the Californian dallying with lady passengers instead of tending to their ships!

although I tend to like Clive Cussler novels, I thought his Raise the Titanic was one of the weakest books he ever wrote. it was amazingly slow moving and dull for Cussler.

I did enjoy Serling's book, Something's Alive on the Titanic, although I know folks who think it is incrediby tacky.

another one that I sort of liked was Craig O. Thompson's Omar. in that one, Arab terrorists hire a Japanese deep diving firm to salvage the bejeweled copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam that supposedly went down with Titanic. Omar starts out pretty strong, but looses its punch about half way through. there is a lot of neat information about the jeweled Rubaiyat though, and I would recommend it for that reason alone.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 

Bob Godfrey

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'Every Man for Himself' by Beryl Bainbridge is a work of quality which reached the short list for the Booker Prize. It is not a novel about the Titanic, but rather an exploration of social custom and of the interactions of several characters (some real, some fictitious) which take place against a background of the voyage and the sinking. If you're looking for the literary equivalent of a disaster movie, best look elsewhere.
 

Paul Rogers

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Purely a personal opinion:

"Raise The Titanic" - best work of fiction about the Big T, as well as the best book Cussler has written.

"Ghost of the Grand Banks" - oh dear. Read once and never will again. Enough said.

I wonder what these choices say about my character...?
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Regards,
Paul.
 

John Clifford

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I, too, liked "Raise the Titanic". The book was well written, which made the 1980 film that much more a disaster.

For Young Readers title, I recommend "Titanic Crossing", by Barbara Williams.

Reading about the fictional character Albert Trask and his family's voyage on the ship, you get a great idea of what it must have been like on board.
And while the names of the other passengers are also fictional, their stories were taken from those of the actual passengers.
 
May 12, 2005
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I have only read one Titanic novel - "Raise the Titanic" - which I absorbed at around the age of 8 in 197*. So I agree with Paul and John. I liked the book (and the movie, by the way). I chiefly recall thinking how odd those then "futuristic" dates seemed. Like "1988." Boy that seemed far away!
 

Bob Godfrey

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Randy, you should also read 'Every Man for Himself' - Lady Duff is in it! But only in a cameo role. Have you come across any other fictional portrayals of Lucile?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Well, I'll put in a plug for Raise The Titanic. I found it to be most entertaining. I don't think it'll go down as a literary classic, but even Clive Cussler himself had no illusions about that. He was the one who said that his work has no litrary value in an interview I read several years ago.

I enjoyed it anyway.
 
May 12, 2005
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Hey Bob!

I will try and find "Every Man for Himself." Thanks for the heads up.

As to fictional portrayals of Lucile. Yes, there are several. She was the inspiration for key characters in Edna Ferber's "Fanny Herself" (1917) and "Gowns by Roberta" (1933) by Alice Duer Miller. The latter was made into a Broadway musical in which Bob Hope made his debut. "Roberta" is best remembered in its film version, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It launched the classic song "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

Lucile was also used as a composite character in several Barbara Cartland novels. Cartland had been dressed by Lucile as a deb and remembered her as "a spiffing old girl." One of the funniest and fondest interviews I did for my projected book was with that great lady in all her vivacious eccentricity. She was 97 when I met her, a year before her death, and so was understandably dotty. She couldn't remember details of her frocks (again who can blame her after 80 years!?!) but she was full of wicked, gossipy chatter. Tea with her was truly an event on Edwardian scale and listening to her dish the dirt on the Royals - well, I wish I had had my tape recorder! I was only disappointed that she was dressed in turquoise instead of her everlasting pink!

Randy
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Thought I'd put in another recommendation for Beryl Bainbridge's Every Man for Himself. Bob's comment regarding the book not being about Titanic per se, even though set on Titanic, is spot on. I collect Titanic fiction and it's still my firm favourite. However, if this were a 'desert island' fiction situation, it would be Bainbridge's novel on Scott's last expedition (The Birthday Boys) that would be marooned with me.

Michail has mentioned another favourite: Erik Fosnes Hansen's Psalm at Journey's End, the personal journeys of an imagined band rather than the real Wallace Hartley and colleagues. Lately I've enjoyed Joan Clark's Latitudes of Melt, the story of a woman growing up and growing old in Newfoundland. The story starts with a baby girl found on an ice floe by Newfoundland fishermen, and each stage of the novel there on has a particular Titanic reference point - the rediscovery of Aurora's lost family connections, then her children's gravitation to Titanic through oral history and engineering (including a trip in a submersible). Not so much Titanic fiction as fiction with Titanic connections. In contrast, maritime novelist Alexander Fullerton's recent Wave Cry, about the bereaved Titanic survivor Eileen Maguire's intended revenge on JB Ismay was an unexpected disappointment (even though it provides one of the most interesting and sympathetic treatments of Ismay I've read in fiction).

Cussler's book is a hoot, but not really a favourite. I think it an OTT ripping yarn even within its genre and more of a cold war curio than anything else. There are elements that I find off putting, but it's hard not to regard it with some affection - a view borne out by the responses to the Titanic fiction survey I ran elsewhere a while back. Thinking of hoots of reads, there's not much comedy involving Titanic, or at least not intentional comedy. Senan Molony's A Garbled Titantic, a Goon-esque break neck run through Titanic's story (shades of 1066 and All That or The Ascent of Rum Doodle) is the notable exception. Although, as I've written before, readers who are easily offended will not be disappointed.
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Randy's post mentioning Barbara Cartland has stirred another thought: amongst her hundreds of romances, surely there must be a mention of Titanic? As well as Titanic fiction, I also collect references to Titanic in fiction.

(For one of the previous discussions of 'best' rather than 'worst' Titanic fiction, anyone interested could also check out Best Titanic Fiction.)
 
May 12, 2005
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Glad Fiona has mentioned Molony's work. I have read only excerpts e-mailed from friends but it was hilarious. I was given "Psalm at Journey's End," too, but have not read it. So I will now that I see it is a "Fi fave!"

As to whether any of Barbara Cartland's books mention Titanic. That is a good question. I have collected many that are set in the early 1900s and have not found any reference to the Big T but I, too, imagine there must be one.

Randy
 
A

Andrew E. MacAskill

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Barbara Cartland is a romance novelist, no? If you're looking for a romance novel in which the Titanic figures, look for Danielle Steele's No Greater Love. I haven't read it yet--or any romance novel, for that matter--but one day I will.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Andrew, I haven't read it either but bear in mind that 'No Greater Love' has been nominated for a 'Falling Funnel' award as worst ever Titanic fiction (presumably by someone who HAS read it)!
 

Inger Sheil

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'No Greater Love' is...ack! Perhaps I'm just not in tune with the genre, but I found it absolutely execrable. It nearly took a flying passage down the entire length of the aisle of the 190 North Bound Bus from Wynyard when I read it. But if it's a falling funnel, then the utterly, hilariously vile 'Titanic: A Love Story' is a split hull.

Not a great fan of 'Raise the Titanic', either. I'm with Fi on both Beryl Bainbridge's book (and in her observations on 'The Birthday Boys'!) and 'Psalm at Journey's End', even if they're not exactly a conventional fictional narrative about the disaster per se.

Speaking of scenes that always seem to make it - Lowe blaring at Ismay, and Lightoller barring Astor, always seem to make the cut in Titanic fiction.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Um, being a collector of Titanic fiction I've read more candidates for 'Falling Funnel' awards than I care to think about. No Greater Love starts on Titanic where Edwina Preston loses both parents and her English fiance, and has to raise her brothers and sisters. Fortunately the Prestons are wealthy, cushioning the family's grief to a degree, and most of the book is taken up with the family's adventures in the early film industry. I thought it a very glib read with modern sensibilities: no real sense of time or place. There are much better Titanic related romances, but Danielle Steel is a best selling, high profile author, so NGL is the Titanic romance novel most people know of. It's also fair to add that NGL is by no means the worst Titanic romance either! More candidates for that position than you can poke the proverbial stick at.

Following on from Inger's comments, other common motifs in Titanic fiction include the narrator surviving on Collapsible B (a simple narrative device to keep the main character with Titanic's immediate story for as long as possible, including those final dramatic moments as the ship goes down). My favourite, spanning all writing for adults and younger readers, is Molly Brown as Great Social Leveller and Introductions'R'Us (particularly across the passenger classes). Cameron wasn't the first to use Margaret Brown like this and he won't be the last by any means.
 

Inger Sheil

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Lol! Not so much the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" as the "Ubiquitous Molly Brown". In any work on the Titanic you just keep waiting for her to make her obligatory appearance...same with The Duff Gordons and the Countess of Rothes (they have titles, ergo they must make an appearance to emphasise the elite class we're dealing with here...). Astor...Guggenheim...the Strauses...roll 'em on out.
 
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But the TV adaptation of "No Greater Love" had a neophyte Anakin Skywalker in it...hey, what it lacks in drama, it makes up for in strangeness.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Crikey, Kritina - I'm not even going to try to top that one! Can't say that I've seen the NGL film and now I'm even surer I don't want to.
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Back to reasonable reads rather than fairly ordinary fillums, quite a few posters here have made favourable mention of Jack Finney's From Time to Time, the sequel to Time and Again, another take on Titanic and time travel. The early 'filler' photos of NY and a curious coldness to the central characters were a bit off putting for me, but from what others have written about the book, it would probably benefit from the reader being familiar with the first in the series.
 

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