Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review - Hearts that Survive by Yvonne Lehman

Charity is solely responsible for my new-found interest in the Titanic. Along that same vein, also thanks to her, is my desire to see the story told as accurately as possible. A little romance is fine, awesome even, but only in so long as its in keeping with the actual facts of history. Now, on to my thoughts for Yvonne Lehman's Hearts that Survive.

The Plot

When wealthy heiress Lydia Beaumont boarded the Titanic the last thing she expected was a proposal from the man she loved. Not only did it come at a startling moment but also a necessary one due to her being in a family way. Instead of reacting fearfully John  realizes that not only is he willing to take responsibility for one night of mistaken passion but that he loves Lydia deeply enough to marry her. What better setting than the Titanic for a romantic wedding

Of course, we know what happens. History doesn't change and many a wife and mother lost her husband that dreadful night. Lydia and her friend Caroline are not, themselves, immune to the tragedy and both find they must pick up the shattered pieces of their souls. Lydia is again bombarded with a wedding proposal from the vice-president of her father's company, Craven Dowd, and now she must make a decision. Remain unwed (for despite the wedding, legal papers were not to have been signed until April 15th) and pregnant or marry Craven and pray that he doesn't notice the month's discrepancy between conception and birth.

This is a story of rebuilding one's life after a tragedy of immeasurable size has shattered it.

My Thoughts

I was deeply enthused about this book for the first 150 pages or so. The writing style interested me and I adored Lydia's beau, John. He was a poet and a toy train maker so how could I not love him? Unfortunately my greatest fear came to pass and Lydia is not nearly so likeable without John at her side. She is petty, emotional, and well, childish, rather like the much-adored Rose from James Cameron's film. The only difference is that Lydia has some faith in God, although not as much faith as John had. Okay, so the heroine's not all she's cracked up to be. I can live with that. But there's more.

How do you write a novel about the Titanic and give only one mention to Thomas Andrews? And I'm not even certain if she did mention Charles Lightoller! Lightoller was 2nd mate on board the Titanic and played a very notable role during the sinking and Thomas Andrews was the ship's designer. He certainly deserved more than one mention. Plus, and I hate to say it, but Margaret Brown became "Molly" once again. I live in Colorado so this has become a pet peeve of mine. During her lifetime she was in no way, shape, or form referred to as Molly. Her friends called her Maggie so that was actually a severe annoyance to me, having to read Molly when I knew her nickname was Maggie.

The Bottom Line

So, what began interesting quickly delved into boring. When I read a book I prefer reading actual conversations instead of descriptions of those conversations. I prefer active verbs instead of passive. The book was boring! I kept reading up until the bitter end but Hearts that Survive didn't live up to my sizable expectations. Yvonne Lehman is a respected authoress and I've enjoyed many of her novels. I'm not sure where she went wrong with the characters and style for this book. I'd have to give it, if I were doing that type of rating system, 3 out of 5 stars. I don't regret reading it but I would never read it again and recommending it, especially to Titanic enthusiasts, would be impossible.


  1. This was probably just a quick job to make a bit of cash off the 100th anniversary. Which isn't a bad idea (pity I didn't think of it sooner) but... at least give the audience something they haven't seen before. =P

    Oh, and a fact checker would also be nice. ;)

  2. I wish it didn't feel like she'd spent years working on this book, but it does! Which only makes me feel more guilty about not liking the book. It's just. . . Okay, it feels like the last 100 pages are an epilogue. Most of the book takes place while the heroine is young and then the last 100 pages have her aging, experiencing other tragedies and reminiscing. It doesn't seem to match with the rest of the novel. Historic values aside, the book feels awkward. And that annoys me no end because it could be so much better. Rather like that Christian vampire book. It could have been so much better!

  3. Many books could be so much better than they are. That's the sad truth.


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