"By The Light of the Silvery Moon" by Tricia Goyer
September 30, 2013
"By The Light of the Silvery Moon" by Tricia Goyer is skillfully crafted with intricately interwoven lives enmeshed in major deep-rooted conflicts and characters that poignantly tug at one's heart-strings. Indepth historical research is accurately interspersed with the epitome of luxury to capture the magical mystic of the Titanic, highlighted by impending doom, in a tragic disaster waiting in the wings of time.
The Titanic was a ship of dreams, touted as "the greatest ship ever built." There has never been a ship like it before and there probably never will be again. It was intended to be much more than just a great engineering feat of mankind. It symbolized the dawn of hope and the promise of a bright future that was tragically not to be. In the history of the Titanic, time was destined to be an endlessly-flowing river.
Aboard the Titanic, Amelia Gladstone was all set to celebrate the historic advent of a splendid new era, heralding in the most luxurious ocean liners that ever sailed the seven seas. Determined to live in the present, Amelia decided not to let the anchor of memories pull her down and sink her flagging spirits. Nor would she allow the waves of worry to batter and bruise her heart. Amelia prayed to God to enable her to savour the present moment and live in the here and now. She wanted to be open to what God had in store for her future. Amelia's aching heart yearned for new horizons, fresh insights and a much stronger faith to sustain her through difficult times. Amelia loved God with all her heart but she knew she had not been as bold in sharing her faith as she should have been.
Quentin Walpole was wounded and scared. He longed for a friend whom he could trust. Amelia could see that gaze, deep down in his eyes. She wished she could do more for him, maybe even be that special friend he yearned for. Perhaps it would happen, on this ship of dreams and hope. Amelia wondered whether Quentin had people in his past life whom he missed dearly and longed to see again. Did Quentin's heart painfully ache "to know and be known, to love and be loved?"
Clarence Walpole missed his youngest son, Quentin, more than words could say. It had been five long years since Quentin had walked out of his heart and his life, claiming his share of his inheritance and squandering it away. Deep down in his heart, Clarence was sure thadaqs'npin w`q alive and well somewhere. If only he knew where he was. If only he could catch a glimpse of him. That would have comforted his father-heart as nothing else could.
Clarence was overwhelmed as he clung desperately to his faith. His heart ached with deep regrets as he struggled to hold back his tears. He could not afford to cry any more. He had already wept his heart out. He knew he had to be strong in order to prove that God's strength sustained him. What other choice did he have? Hope was his only option and his only way out. Clarence was well aware that God knew where Quentin was. He knew that he could trust God who loved Quentin even more than he did. At this moment, that knowledge had to be sufficient. He would trust God to take care of Quentin until the way opened up for him to see him again. When Clarence heard that Amelia had seen Quentin, he longed to see his son himself. "Give your sons to Me," an inner voice whispered compellingly in his heart. A peace flooded his whole being and he knew he had heard God's voice. "Lord, I am willing." Make me even more willing.
Amelia needed time alone by herself to recollect her thoughts and reaffirm her purpose for this voyage. She must make sure that she did not forget what lay behind her nor what was ahead. "May God fill your heart with a new love, to hold you up when the missing gets too terrible." She would pray for Quentin. A warm sensation enveloped her and a strange feeling of someone standing behind her pervaded her senses. She spun around but saw no one. An inner peace descended upon her heart and Amelia knew that she sensed the presence of God with her. A sudden conviction hit her that it was no strange coincidence that Quentin, his father, Clarence and his brother, Damien were all on this ship together. It was not by chance that she was offered an extra passenger's ticket on this ship which she gave to Quentin, on seeing him being dragged mercilessly off the gangplank. Amelia knew that God had a purpose for Quentin and He was instrumental in using her to meet his father and brother from whom he was estranged, despite being together on the same ship. Amelia knew that Quentin was in God's hands. She whispered a prayer that God would soften Quentin's heart and gently remind him of his father's love.
Amelia's heart ached as she thought of all the lonely years. Despite her pain and heartache, God had always been faithful to her. He had given her a brand new hope for her future. It marked a turning point in her life. It was both pointless and hopeless to think of what was past. She needed to focus on the present and look with hope to the future. She thought of Quentin. He was one of God's gifts to her. All he had to offer to her was his heart. When he gazed at her, his eyes reached deep down into her heart and moved her in a way no one had ever done before. When Amelia looked into Quentin's face, she felt a gentle peace stirring in her heart. She knew what she had never known before. Quentin was God's choice for her.
Quentin's heart felt full and complete. He knew that in order to win Amelia's affections, he would have to surrender. And he did just that. He prayed and surrendered, asking God to forgive all his past mistakes. Something snapped inside him and all his pain drained out into the hands of Jesus. "Quentin, who'd run away from love, now dared to hope love could be possible." Winning Amelia's heart was a gift Quentin felt he had no right to receive. Her simple innocence almost brought him to his knees.
As Amelia prayed for Quentin, God ministered to her heart that she was to guide Quentin into healing for his own pain. God had a gift of healing for Quentin that He wanted Amelia to deliver. "Lord, restore what was lost. Heal what's been broken. Whatever it takes." No matter what life held in the future for Amelia, she could never forget God's healing power that could easily restore in an instant what had been hurt and broken for so long.
When Quentin honored Amelia's words enough to lay down his pride and honor and reunite with his beloved father, Amelia knew deep down in her heart that she had hope for a brand new life with Quentin. She felt utterly cherished and saw with wide open eyes the amazing power of prayer at work. Prayer really made a huge difference in people's lives. Amelia realized this as seeds of love for Quentin were slowly germinating in the garden of her heart. She knew that she would have to trust God even more now than she had ever done before.
Amelia and Quentin learnt that none of their experiences in life would ever be wasted. God could take the broken pieces and fashion them into the most beautiful patterned mosaic. Something good would always come out of their past failures when they offered them to God to be transformed by His life-changing power. When Quentin bravely confronted the mistakes and failures of his life, and walked away from a past that had so often held him in chains, he made a fresh new start to life. Amelia and Quentin decided to trust God with what lay ahead. God would show them. As they grew closer to him, he would make a way where there was none. God had used Amelia to give Quentin the greatest gifts he could ever imagine - a reconciliation with God and with his own father. During the horrific ship wreck, both Amelia and Quentin sensed that God was just a whispered prayer away. His voice hovered over the dark waters, calling His children home. When Amelia thought she had lost Quentin, she acknowledged that she had lost the greatest treasure of all - love. God had given her Quentin's love briefly, only to lose him tragically, or so she thought, until she found him. "Amelia remembered Quentin's last smile. His last look of love." Faced with the imminent loss of the life of Quentin, the man whom she loved the most, and after being reunited with him, Amelia decided to put her utmost faith in God. "It's not what I put my faith in, it's who I put my faith in," she said.
Tricia Goyer's account of the Titanic sinking is one of many books released this year during the 100th anniversary, but one of the best. What happens when you mix the Titanic sinking with the biblical Prodigal Son story? A fun read! Amelia, Quentin, and Damien are well-written characters. I think some of the funniest moments of the book came in Amelia's letters from her intended in New York! The descriptions of the Titanic's decor, class accommodations, and meals brought me right onto the ship. Knowing that the ship was going to sink, I wondered who would live and who would die among all the people, real and imagined, in this story. The scenes when the ship sank and the survivors couldn't help all those poor people in the water were gripping; they really made the sinking more real to me.
When I realized that this was historical fiction about the Titanic, I was ecstatic! I have had a fascination with this great ship since I did a report on it back in sixth grade. And with the 100th year anniversary, it could not be better timing.
I was immensely pleased with the research that the author did for this book. She added in everything from the near collision when it set sail to the screams of the doomed passengers in the water. For the first time, I understood why no one survived who was not in the lifeboat. And I understood the precarious position of those lifeboats. I know I may have heard it before, but suddenly it made sense.
I was enthralled by the story. I was able to tell early on that one of the stories was an updated retelling of the Prodigal Son parable. I loved the twist the author put in the story.
Amelia is a character that spoke to my heart--as did Quentin. I am amazed at how God continues to use historical Chrisitan fiction to speak to my heart. I have been blaming myself lately for the part I have played in my current domestic issue. I have found myself apologizing over and over for a decision I made some 10 years ago that is making this current issue possible. Well, I realized yesterday as I read that God orchestrated it all. It was not something I pursued or sought after. And God could have stopped it. But He did not. It happened, and even as I walk through my current pain, God has a purpose in it all. Just as Amelia and Quentin learned. How could the disaster of the Titanic been a part of God's plan? We may never understand it in this life. As an old song I know says: When you can't trust His hand, trust His heart.
I also loved the side note about John Astor. I will not spoil it for the reader, but it was pure genius, in my opinion.
In short, if you love historical fiction romances, this is for you. Yes, it has a strong Christian message, but it is woeven so seamlessly into the fabric of the story, I doubt it would truly bother anyone who is not a Christian. It may convict you, but the story line is so strong that I will bet you will not want to put it down.
I was given a copy of this book inexchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated in any way, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
PROS: Interesting take on the parable of the prodigal son; really captures the essence of what it was like to be onboard the Titanic
CONS: Hero and heroine fell in love too fast for it to be believable; some characters were underdeveloped; preachy in places
Amelia Gladstone and Quentin Walpole are both looking forward to making a new start in America, and the first step in their journey is taking a trip on the Titanic. But while Amelia's ticket has been paid for by a potential suitor hoping to meet her and her aunt when they arrive in America, Quentin is thrown off the ship when he attempts to sneak onboard. Amelia can never ignore a need, but she doesn't imagine how her life will change when she hands Quentin her spare ticket. Not only is this trip the start of a whirlwind romance with Quentin, but Amelia's discoveries about her new friend help her to reunite him with his long-lost family, who are also onboard the Titanic. Soon Amelia is swept into the life of the first class passengers on the ship, dancing and dining with Quentin's older brother, Damian, while Quentin struggles in deciding whether or not he should reintroduce himself to his family. And if he doesn't, is he worthy of Amelia's time and love? But very soon, Amelia and Quentin will have much harder problems to deal with, ones which could tear them apart for ever.
When looking at this spring's new releases, it almost seems as if every publisher in existence was trying to put a Titanic novel on the shelves. When it came to deciding which book I wanted to read to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic, By the Light of the Silvery Moon was an obvious choice, as I've thoroughly enjoyed some of Tricia's previous novels. But while I had high hopes for her writing and storytelling abilities, I was a bit cautious when it came to fitting a love story into the short space of time from the Titanic leaving Britain and coming to its sad demise only a few days later.
Ultimately, I was very satisfied with By the Light of the Silvery Moon. I came to care about the characters and could feel my heart thudding during the scene in which the ship sank. I can't even begin to mention the amount of detail that Tricia put into the descriptions of the cabins, dining rooms, clothing and food onboard the Titanic. Tricia definitely did a lot of research into what it was like travelling on the Titanic and I could easily imagine many of the scenes that she described. But I feel that there were some aspects of the characterisation and romance that felt a little underdeveloped, which is only natural when you're trying to fit so much into such a short space of time.
When it came to Amelia on her own, I did really like her character, even if she seemed a bit too perfect at times. I was worried that Amelia didn't have any flaws, until her aunt challenged some of Amelia's notions about love and marriage. I had to be similarly challenged about my romantic ideals a few years ago so I could definitely relate to this part of the book. The section in which Amelia mused over her dilemma over whether to settle for someone stable, like her potential suitor in America, or risk her love on someone who has made a lot of mistakes in their life, like Quentin, was one of the most realistic and touching scenes relating to Amelia and Quentin's relationship.
While I did like the fact that Quentin and Damian's story was a retelling of the parable of the prodigal son - although I'll admit, it took me a while to realise the inspiration behind this part of the plot - I wish that Damian's character had been developed further. I knew that he was the villain of the story but I wish that Tricia could have delved deeper into what made him such a hateful person. There were some hints of jealousy and rivalry between the brothers, and bitterness because Damian associated their mother's death with Quentin, but these hints weren't developed enough to let me see Damian as a truly believable character. Although Damian managed to redeem himself in the end I still felt like something was missing from his part of the story.
When it came to the spiritual aspects of By the Light of the Silvery Moon, I liked the idea of Quentin learning that he needed to forgive himself in order to restore his relationship with God, but I wasn't so keen on the execution of this part of the plot. The scene in which Quentin finally talked to God and asked for forgiveness was just a little bit too cheesy for my liking. Some of the spiritual sections of this book, particularly the conversations between Amelia and Quentin, were realistic, but others verged on too sermon-like. I was actually surprised at the way that Tricia dealt with the spiritual issues in this book as the spiritual aspect of her Big Sky series was what made me love it so much, but her approach in By the Light of the Silvery Moon seemed entirely different. I also have to mention that I'm honestly convinced that every single character that Amelia came into contact with on the Titanic was a Christian. Even in 1912, I didn't see this as at all realistic. Please correct me if you find a character in By the Light of the Silvery Moon that doesn't have some sort of relationship with God, but this is the way that it seemed to me when I was reading this book.
Ultimately I found By the Light of the Silvery Moon to be an enjoyable love story set onboard the Titanic. As far as I could tell, the details about the ship and its sinking were accurate and really made the story come to life. Tricia's strengths definitely lie in her ability to research and recreate a scene. While I did struggle with how quickly Amelia and Quentin came to fall for each other, this may just be a matter of personal taste, and I'm sure that some romance readers won't let this deter them. By the Light of the Silvery Moon didn't quite live up to some of Tricia's previous novels, namely in the character of Damian and the heavy-handedness with the spiritual sections of the novel, but those looking for a romantic, dramatic retelling of the sinking of the Titanic won't be disappointed.