“Titanic: Voyage of Death: The Final 48 Hours” written by J.T. Belmont and the audiobook edition narrated by J. Scott Bennett is mostly described by its rather long title. Most of the book covers the final forty-eight hours prior to the sinking of the famed and majestic ship called Titanic. The print edition of this novella takes up about ninety-two pages with the audiobook about 2 hours and forty-five minutes. If you are a fan of the movie, which dramatizes the well-known disaster, you may find this book quite interesting. It attempts to blend fiction and non-fiction by telling a story while also being a documentary, and I will say that it accomplishes this goal. If you like stories containing disasters with some romance, I think you will enjoy this book.
Let me open this review by stating that I am not a Titanic historian nor a Titanic enthusiast. So, I’m unable to validate to ensure the events portrayed in this book are true or factual; or even if the author attempted an accurate telling. I will say that if you have any knowledge of the events from that cold and dark night when the Titanic was sinking, either from the well-known movie or other materials, this book appears to follow them quite accurately. The author’s focus in this story though is more from the perspective of Margaret Brown (Unsinkable Mary) and Thomas Andrews who was the ships architect. I highly recommend after listening to this book that you do some extra research on these two fascinating people. There is an included author’s note section at the end of the audiobook which I would have like to have had prior to diving into the story just to make a few things clearer. I also liked that there were a few chapters devoted to the events leading up to the voyage along with some more modern research and answered questions at the end of the book.
I think the book did a decent job telling the story from a historic documentary perspective, based on my limited understanding, but it fell a bit short in depth of the fictional aspects from story along with its characters. I feel the author did a decent job of researching the various events, but I would have liked to have seen more complexity in the main characters and the story itself. I felt it lacked some of the more descriptive aspects that bring a book to life and allow the reader to visualize what is happening; again, this is a novella. It is not that the book lacks these aspects completely, but they were used mostly during times of great emotion or action. The author did a good job of showing the disparate lives of the various levels of steerage on the ship. How those in third class not only suffered during the journey with poor living conditions and food, but even more when disaster struck and the lower half of the ship filling quickly with ice cold water. We also see the first-class passengers not wanting to be bothered by the events taking place, and their often selfish focus to save themselves or their goods over others.
The narration was overall well done. Mr. Bennett could voice the many characters along with different accents without any issues. I will say that I was a bit surprised with the audio quality when compared to other audiobooks I have reviewed. There were no noticeable artifacts such as swallowing, page turns, or such. It was more the quality of the recording itself. The best way I can describe it would be that is seemed either overly compressed or not as well filtered due to an underlying lack of crispness or clarity while listening. Like someone comparing a CD recording to a cassette tape; there is that subtle background hiss. It is not difficult to ignore this distraction and enjoy the book, but if you focus on it you will hear it. Other than that, the narration was good. With one hundred narrations at the time of this review, I will have to listen to other works by this narrator as this may have been more a fluke.
In summary, if you are looking for a short novella for a car trip or other activity about the sinking of the Titanic, you may want to look at picking up this book. It seems accurate to published events or research, but I enjoyed it more for the historic telling along with some fictional elements thrown in. If this seems to be something of interest to you, I would recommend you pick up the book and have a listen.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.