28 April 2019

Review: Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer

Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer by Lawrence J. Quirk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have waited for years to read this book (it was written in the late 80's) and I am glad I can mark this off my TBR list. This one wasn't as sanitized as many the bios for the olden movie stars are often written. It was a bit, there were many parts of Norma's life and affairs that I think are vacant, not because I know but because I have read about them in other books. This one seemed to be honest about how Norma and Irving got together and about their love and I enjoyed that. It did leave out how she got the part in The Divorcee...or the story I have always heard about.

I think that Gavin Lambert's Norma book is supposed to be the best one written about Norma, but since I have yet to put my hands on that one this one will have to do for now.

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27 April 2019

Review: Gwen Verdon: A Life on Stage and Screen

Gwen Verdon: A Life on Stage and Screen Gwen Verdon: A Life on Stage and Screen by Peter Shelley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover is amazing, the subject is perfection, but the book was not great. I forced myself to finish because, in all my years of loving Fosse, I have NEVER seen a book on Gwen. I needed to love this book. I am so let down. It was more a chronological listing of things she had done and what she wore with a bit of her real-life person sprinkled in. I just needed more about Gwen and Fosse, Gwen and her other loves, Gwen and her childhood. I needed more. I am not going to tell you to read this book unless you are a HUGE fan, because you won't finish it if you aren't. I am so sad to say that.

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20 April 2019

Titanic Timeline

This is a mirror image of what I posted to Facebook (none of these photos are mine because I was not alive in 1912).

It is that time of year
March 23, 1912
Captain Edward J Smith commands the RMS Olympic. His ship is leaving New York and headed to Southhampton where he will take command of the RMS Titanic.

March 24. 1912
David Blair signs on as Second Officer for the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic. Once Captain Smith gets settled in Southhampton, he lets him go and puts Charles Lightoller on as Second Officer for the voyage. It is believed Officer Blair left the ship with the key to the crow's nest binocular cabinet (we will cover this later).
No one is 100% positive if it is the locker key, because it is at the bottom of the ocean. Blair's daughter donated the key to the Sailor's Society and it was auctioned off in 2007.
I saw it on one of my Titanic visits and it is so simply made that I questioned, why was there only one key to the locker and would it have made a difference if there was another key?

March 25, 1912
Captain Haddock signed on to serve as captain of the Titanic until Captain Smith arrives in Southhampton. The two captains will trade places in exactly one week (Haddock will take over the Olympic).
The lifeboats would get a test run today. The tests would show how rafts raise and lower. Every single lifeboat would pass. There are 16 regular lifeboats and 4 collapsible...The original plans included 32 boats along the boat deck, but due to the fact the deck looked "cluttered" the number was reduced to the 20, the crazy thing is that they were STILL compliant with the law at the time. It was said that even if the unsinkable ship started to sink the watertight doors would provide enough time to get all the passengers off the ship.
The number of lifeboats is the second of thing we cover that could have changed history (the first being the key to the locker on the crow's nest).

March 26, 1912
Nothing really happened on this day in Titanic history so I will tell you about my favorite passenger.
Millvina Dean was the youngest person to sail on the ship. She was 2 months old and she traveled with her parents that were immigrating to the USA. When the ship hit the berg, her father got her mother, her brother, and Millvina into lifeboat 10 and then they never saw him again. The family went back to England and lived on pensions. Millvina didn't know until she was almost 10 that she was even on the Titanic.
Milvina was involved in the war effort in WWII. She was never married and was the last survivor of the sinking. She died on May 31, 2009. This was also the 98th anniversary of the launching of the hull of the Titanic.

March 27, 1912

There wasn't anything exciting that happened today I guess because I have never found anything on 3/27. Today I will tell you another story about a few passengers.
There was a dad on the ship. He had two young boys with him. He said their names were Loto (4) and Louis Hoffman (2). His name was registered as Louis M Hoffman. He told everyone that his wife had died and they were going to America on their second class tickets. What wasn't known during the sailing was that their mother, Marcelle was indeed alive and living in France. His legal name was Michel Navratil. Marcelle had been given custody in the divorce and he only had them on weekends. On his weekend (Easter) he took them to the Titanic to escape to America and avoid mom altogether. As the ship sank Michel held unto them until he realized he had to do the right thing. He placed them in the last boat, Collapsible D. Michel's body was found with a revolver in his pocket. I would love to know his plans with that revolver.
The boys' mother had no idea they had been on the Titanic...she just happened to see their photo in a newspaper and that is how she found her babies.

March 28, 1912
JP Morgan decided at almost the last second to give up his first-class suite (he was part owner of the White Star Line that owned Titanic). J Bruce Ismay (managing director/builder of White Star Line) would sail in his place. Bruce's directions would help create the circumstances in which the ship sank. He often encouraged the chief engineer and Captain Smith to test the Titanic and see what she could do.
When the collision happened he was in his bed (in his PJs of course). He went to the boat deck and hung around for a while listening to the crew and asking questions. When he realized the ship he deemed to be virtually unsinkable would perish he was seen assisting crew up women and children in the boats. As he helped with collapsible C, the call was made for more women and children. When no one approached he climbed into the boat himself. Ismay was never respected again, as many felt he should have gone down with his ship.
In the Titanic trials, Ismay was not found guilty of misconduct but he was label "J Brute Ismay" and he resigned his position as managing director on June 30, 1913.

March 29, 1912
Father Browne is one of the most famous Titanic passengers but his ticket was only purchased for a 2-day journey. He was booked to travel from Southampton to Queenstown, Ireland. Father Francis Browne had a hobby of taking photos so as soon as he embarked upon this famous ship he started taking photos. Some of the photos he took are the only photos of certain areas of the Titanic. He also took the last ever photo of many of the passengers, including Captain Smith. While onboard he befriended a millionaire who offered him a free ticket to sail all the way to America. Father Browne wanted to accept this gift but had to ask his superior. Once his superior got the wireless request to remain onboard he wired back, "GET OFF THAT SHIP". This message got Father Browne got off the ship as planned in Queenstown.
I have included some of my favorite photos that he shared with the world once he learned of the sinking. There is a great book with all of the photos and every Titanic exhibit I have visited has featured his masterpieces. The photo of the ship is a photo that he took as the Titanic began to make it's way across the Atlantic.

March 30, 1912
Captain Smith and the Olympic arrive in Southampton.
Another passenger tidbit:
Dorothy Gibson was a silent film star and model. She was in her early 20's when she sailed the Titanic. Dorothy was one of the first people in a lifeboat the night of the sinking and she was also in the very first film about the Titanic. Once she got back to work she made a film called Saved from the Titanic (oh how I wish the reel still existed of this silent film). To me the fact she starred in a film about the sinking was odd, but not the oddest fact.....her costume for the movie was the exact white dress and sweater with black pumps that she wore the night she was recused from lifeboat #7. Here is a photo of her in the sweater and my favorite drawing done of her.

April 1, 1912
Sea trials were supposed to begin today, but they had to postpone them due to high winds.
****more passenger stories....a hero's tale, a snobbish snub and a marriage for love, not money
Lucy Noel the Countess of Rothes was very rich. She also was a generous human. I have never read what she did while onboard the Titanic, but during the sinking, she was a passenger in lifeboat 8. She not only comforted the passengers, but she was so helpful she was put in charge of the tiller on the boat. Throughout the night she was one of the people that wanted to return to the scene and try to rescue people, but she was overruled. During WWI she turned her estate into a military hospital and joined the Red Cross.
Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon had booked passage on the Titanic because she was a famous, rich fashion designer. She traveled from Paris to New York often and only the best would do. When the Titanic was known to be in peril Mr. and Mrs. Duff-Gordon got into lifeboat 1. This boat was built for 40, but only 12 were inside (most of these crew). She had said this night had ruined her lovely nightgown. A crew member told her that many would lose their lives and their livelihoods. Here her story is that she offered each crew member in her boat 5 pounds to assist them. The crew told the story that she offered them 5 pounds each to not go back for others. Her behavior onboard the Carpathia would also be suspect. Lady Duff-Gordon was seen posing for photos with the crew from her boat and asking them to autograph her life vest.
Madeleine Astor was 18 years old, 5 months pregnant and newly married to one of the richest men in the whole world (John Jacob Astor). She and John Jacob were returning to America after an extended honeymoon in Europe. Their marriage had caused much controversy because he was a 47-year-old divorced man. John Jacob had accompanied the little bride to the lifeboat and he asked the crew if he could join her because she was in a delicate way. He was turned down but he asked for the lifeboat number so he could find her later, it was #4. Later they did find his body. Some stories say it was covered in soot, some say crushed...I have never heard anything officially on that. What is known for sure is that he had $2500 in his pocket. Madeleine would soon deliver a son John Jacob Astor V
The very interesting part here is that JJA had in his will that Madeleine got 100,000 in the event of his death. She would also receive use of an NYC home and around $5 million IF she never remarried. About 4 years after JJA's death she did marry again...forfeiting all that money. Don't worry, he wasn't that rich, but he was rich. They divorced in the mid-'30s. She would marry again, move to Palm Beach and die there at 46.

April 2, 1912
Titanic was put to the test for her sea trials. They tested speed, turns, and emergency stops over a 12 hour period. 
Captain Smith officially takes command of the ship and commands that the trials were a success it was time to head to Southampton. Only 8 days until the sailing day.

April 3, 1912
The Titanic had performed up to 23 knots on the journey to Southhampton. That is the fastest she will ever go.
Once they arrived in port the ship will begin being loaded with supplies, dishes, linens, etc.
The White Star Line starts hiring for vacant crew positions.
908 crew members in total would be hired. 696 of those would perish.

April 5, 1912, Good Friday
Titanic was dressed in her best. Flags were being flown from stern to bow. The public wasn't allowed on board but it was okay to walk along the dock and admire the Titanic in all her beauty. There was a flurry of activity on board as beds were made, tables were set and rooms were stocked with things from furniture to cigars to books.

April 6, 1912
Most of the crew has been hired by the end of the day. James McGrady was hired as a 1st class steward. His body would be the last recovered from the Atlantic ocean.
Southampton harbor was full of ships that had canceled voyages due to a coal strike. White Star claimed most of the coal that the company had access to just for the Titanic. 5000 pounds of coal would be loaded to the ship, which was enough coal to get her to America.
There were also passengers of the grounded ships that would move their tickets to the Titanic for the historic sailing.

April 7, 1912
It is Easter Sunday. The docks are very quiet today. Everyone is rejoicing at their church. The only sound that could be
heard was the hourly bell that rang from the bow of the Titanic.
This was the last quiet day Titanic would ever see.

April 8, 1912
Fresh supplies are loaded into the Titanic. Fruit, veggies, meat, coffee, beer, wine, cigars, tea and 1700 quarts of ice cream
The ship designer, Thomas Andrew's makes last minute adjustments.
April 9, 1912
Most of the crew spend their first night on board. Remember one of our first posts, a last minute crew change, David Blair is let go, means no binoculars for the crow's nest.
Tomorrow is sailing day!
April 10, 1912
The day finally arrived, today the Titanic began her maiden voyage.
It wasn't smooth sailing from the get-go. As the Titanic left her berth, she created a suction in the harbor that made the smaller ship move. The Titanic barely missed colliding with the SS City of New York. The New York was stranded because of the coal strike and it took some tugs to keep the two ships from colliding. After the narrow miss, the Titanic would make her way to Cherbourg, France to pick up 274 passengers (Molly Brown would be one of these, we will cover her in a couple of days) and 24 passengers would disembark during a 2 hour period. The ship would then begin to sail towards Queenstown, Ireland around 8pm.
April 11, 1912
Titanic drops anchor off the coast of Queenstown, Ireland. Father Browne got off the Titanic along with a few other passengers. Over 100 got on board the ship in Ireland headed towards a new life in America. Approx 1:30 PM the Titanic picked up her anchor for the last time ever and began a speed of 21 knots across the Atlantic ocean. There were around 2227 passengers on board. As every list varied it is unknown exactly how many were sailing but this number should be close.
April 12, 1912
Today the Titanic would cover around 386 miles. The bridge would receive their first 2 ice warnings and the telegraph machine would break. Harold Bride and Jack Phillips (remember those names) would spend the evening breaking the Marconi rules and would not only attempt but succeed in fixing the telegraph themselves. Many passengers wanted to wire home and brag about the ship's amenities.
April 13, 1912
The Captain would be informed that the fire in broiler room 6 is finally extinguished. Everyone realizes that this fire has damaged the bulkhead and that damage may help contribute to the events tomorrow night.

April 13 would be the last full night Titanic would ever see.
Margaret Brown
Margaret was never known as Molly during her lifetime. That was nickname created after her death. Margaret was ahead of her time in regards to women's rights. She had run for political office before women could vote, she volunteered at homeless shelters, she was on committees for women's educational rights and was a pillar of society in Denver, CO.
Mrs. Brown would be a passenger in lifeboat 6. She championed to take the boat back to the sinking site to pick up survivors but it is not known if her lifeboat went back. She did help calm other survivors throughout the night.
She is probably the most famous passengers because of a book, play and a movie about how she was so "unsinkable".
Her Denver home has been turned into a museum and it is a pretty cool place to visit. 

April 14, 1912
So much happened on the 14th....first of all, a lifeboat drill that was scheduled would be canceled by Captain Smith because it is just too cold.
At least 7 ice warnings were taken to the bridge, the first arriving at 10:15am and the last around 11:00pm. These warnings were from other ships that had sailed similar routes to the Titanic. Captain Smith heeds the warnings (in a way) he alters course but does NOT slow down.
9:20pm Captain Smith retires to his room leaves orders to wake him if "in doubt".
9:40 Philips to working hard in the wireless room to deliver passenger messages. A "heavy ice ahead" warning is received but never given to the bridge because Bride and Phillips are "too busy". They have only a 2-hour window to use the Cape Race receiver in New Foundland to send messages.
10:00pm the air temperature is 32 and the ocean temperature is 28. Shift change...Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee go to the crow's nest to look for bergs. Remember there are no binoculars if there were the berg might have been seen sooner. The sea is calm, like glass. It is cold. There is no moon in the sky.
10:50pm The Californian sends a message that they are surrounded by ice and stopping for the night. Phillips wires back for them to "shut up, I am working Cape Race". The Californian operator gets angry, shuts off his machine and goes to bed.
11:00pm the iceberg is 15 miles ahead.
11:40....Lookout Fredrick Fleet spots an iceberg "right ahead". He calls to the bridge and First Officer Murdoch orders the ship "hard astarboard" which is a turn to the left (port) and a "full astern" that is a reversal of the engines. The hull strikes the berg on the starboard side (the side where the fire once was just yesterday) ripping 5 watertight compartments. It has only been 37 seconds since the first sighting of the iceberg. 37 seconds!!! Almost immediately the 5 compartments are filling with water.
11:50pm water is almost 14 feet deep in the hull. Captain Smith orders the ship designer, Thomas Andrews to "sound the ship"April 10, 1912
April 15,1912
12:00am Thomas Andrews reports that the ship will flounder, there are only about 2 hours left. An order is given that women and children need to load the lifeboats. There are only enough boats for about half of the 2227 (ish) on board.
12:15am Phillips and Bride are ordered to send out a CQD (come quick distress) signal. This is the standard signal of the day, but before the night is over they will use the newish code, SOS. It was NOT the first time the code was used, but definitely the most famous time.
12:20am Carpathia gets a message “come at once. We have struck a berg. It’s a CQD, old man”. They change course to come offer assistance. They are 58 miles and almost 4 hours away. The band starts playing on deck to “comfort” the passengers.
12:45am lifeboat #7 is the first to leave the ship. There are 27 on board, and the boat could carry 65. Titanic sends up distress rockets. Someone onboard the Californian sees the rockets but is unsure what they mean so he goes back to bed.
12:55am two more lifeboats leave, including #6, Margaret Brown’s vessel.
1:00am lifeboat #1 leaves with the Duff-Gordons both onboard.
1:10am Ida and Isidor Straus (co-owner of Macy's) are offered a spot on lifeboat #8. Isidor would not board while other men when still onboard. Ida seals her fate by refusing to leave her husband's side. She stated, “where you go, I go”. The Countess of Rothes does board lifeboat #8.
1:15am another lifeboat is launched and the water is up to the Titanic nameplate on the bow
1:20am Millvina Dean’s lifeboat, #10 leaves.
1:30am Phillips sends out the message “women and children in boats. Cannot last much longer.”
1:40am Bruce Ismay snuck onto a collapsible lifeboat and his boat is lowered from Titanic.
2:00am the bow goes under and collapsible lifeboat A is filled with water as 20 people get inside. Lifeboat #14 will come to save them, but some will have died. They leave 3 bodies in the boat and it is a month before those bodies will be recovered. Collapsible B would land upside down. There wasn't time to right it, so men climbed onboard...including Officer Lightolier. After the ship went under, Col. Archbald Gracie (who wrote a wonderful book on the sinking and die before it was finished), Jack Thayer (son of Pennsylvania railroad co-owner) and wireless operator Harold Bride would climb on top of the hull of the boat after swimming away from the sinking vessel. It is said 30 men were on this boat at one time.
2:01am Captain Smith announces “it is every man for himself”.
2:05am the last lifeboat left the ship
2:17am Wireless operator Jack Phillips makes it to a boat, but he will die and his body is never found. It is supposed he may have made it to collapsible B.
2:18am The lights blick and then go out. The bow goes under raising the stern. The ship breaks into and the bow will travel to the bottom of the ocean. The stern settles back down, but as it fills with water it begins to take a plunge. The last message is sent for help.
2:20am 2 hours and 40 minutes after the Titanic struck the berg, it was gone. As the travels under the ocean, it tumbles and implodes and lands on the bottom around a mile from the bow. (the ship would not be found on the ocean bottom until September 1, 1985)
3:30am The Carpathia arrives.
4:10am the first boat is picked up, #2
8:30am the last boat #12 is picked up
8:50am The Carpathia heads towards NYC
April 16, 1912
A Carpathia crew member would attempt to make a list of all the survivors and that information would be relayed back to NY and to the White Star Line for posting. This process would take 2 days.
There were varying reports on the 15th that were published in NY ranging from all passengers survived or that the ship was ok but limping back to port. Today NY would realize that over 1500 died, the ship was gone and the Carpathia was bringing 705 survivors to NYC.
Survivors would be assessed and treated for injuries. Exposure and hypothermia would be the most common injuries.
Several recovery companies would be hired on this date. Their main job would be to recover bodies and lifeboats from the Atlantic ocean. They were hired on this date, but they still have to make the way to the wreckage site so they won't get started for a couple of days.

April 17, 1912
On this date, McKay and Bennett left Halifax headed toward the wreckage site. They were hired to recover items/people from the site.
The Carpathia continued relaying names of survivors back to NYC. On this list would also be two lap dogs. What Carpathia doesn't do is answer any questions about any passengers. Not even when President Roosevelt (he was not the current Pres, that was Taft) questioned whether his aide, Archibald Butt survived.
Major Archibald Butt
His life was all about the military. He joined a volunteer army in the late 1800s. Once he left the army, he had caught the eye of Teddy Roosevelt who made him his military aide. They became close friends during TR's Presidency and because William Taft and TR were buddies, Butt became Taft's pal too. When Taft and TR began feuding, Butt felt in the middle of the two and his health declined. He spent 6 weeks in Europe to recover and then booked passage on the Titanic because it was time to come home.
The sad part is that no one knows what role if any he played in the events of the night. There are so many conflicting reports of what he may have done that we will never know for sure. He did perish and his body was never recovered.
Another Archibald (I confused the two when I was younger)
Archibald Gracie was so wealthy he did not do much for a living. He dabbled in real estate, military history and built a mansion that would one day be where the governor of NY would live. He had a wife and two daughters (one died in a freak elevator accident). In 1912 he had finished a book that he spent seven years writing and decided to take a break and go to Europe. He went alone and spent his time reading and sightseeing. He booked the Titanic as a grand way to end his trip. During the sailing, he was seen to spend most of his time in the library and the ship's gym/pool. He worked out often on land so he was very fit and his physical ability would help him so much the morning of April 15.
He claimed to have felt the instant the ship his the iceberg and he got up and started planning from that second that the ship would sink. He put on his life jacket, his overcoat, and a hat. He was seen helping many ladies unto lifeboats and assisted in launching the collapsible lifeboats. Gracie stayed on the ship until it went under. He was pulled under with the ship, but he swam and fought his way to the surface. When he emerged he was exhausted but he saw the collapsible B boat that had slid off the boat deck upside down and swam over to it. He would be one of many men that tried to hang onto the hull or climb on top of the overturned boat. LIfeboat 12 would come to their aide and Gracie was pulled onboard. When they got back to New York Gracie started a book on the sinking. The sad part is that his health never recovered from the exposure to the elements... he died right before his book was published around six months after the sinking.

April 18, 1912
It was raining, but the Carpathia arrived in New York with the survivors. Before the ship docked they would take off all of the lifeboats then the passengers would start to disembark.
Reporters and gawkers would all crowd the pier for the story of what happened. Harold Bride, one of the wireless operators, would agree to sell his story.
Many passengers just wore a shocked face as they walked down the gangplank. It was a sad day to arrive in America and they arrived so differently than they all planned. 

April 19, 1912
While the White Star employees and all other involved parties were in New York, the government officially began an inquiry as to what happened the night of April 14, when the ship struck the iceberg. The inquiry would last until May 25 and would go back and forth from NYC to DC (there would be similar trials in London when. 80 people would be called to testify about the lifeboats, ice warnings, evacuation procedures, crew actions and other ships near the wreck site at the time of the sinking. The committee did not get to view the lifeboats. Remember that on April 18 the lifeboats were unloaded from the Carpathia as she entered NYC. By the next morning, they were gone. No one knows for sure, but it is speculated that they were loaded onto another ship and returned to White Star to be used on another of their vessels.
During the inquiry, J Bruce Ismay would have to answer why he survived, why the ship was going so fast in icy waters, why the lifeboats were half filled, and what role he played in the events that transpired during the sailing. Fredrick Fleet, one of the lookouts would give a wonderful testimony about sighting the berg, remember he is the one who called the bridge and reported, "Iceberg, right ahead". He would also talk about how there were no binoculars, just his own eyes and had he had some he could have spotted the iceberg sooner.
Another interesting fact is that many of the crew (about 910 at sailing---only 212 survived) were contracted with the Titanic so when the ship went down they stopped getting paid.
Crew member Violet Jessop
Violet's father died when she was young and her mother earned a living working on ships. When Violet's mom got too ill to work, Violet decided to work on ships herself. She worked on a few ships before she was put on the White Star Olympic (one of Titanic's sister ships). She was working when the Olympic collided with the Hawke and while it didn't sink, the ship limped back to port and Violet made it off safely. When the Titanic was launched, Violet applied to contract with that ship. She got the job and of course, you know how the ship collided with an iceberg, but what you don't know is that Violet made it off the ship herself in lifeboat 16. She could not or would not give up her career and during WWI she went to work on another Titanic sister ship, the Britannic. The ship encountered a German U-boat and started sinking. It sank very quickly and Violet could not make a lifeboat so she jumped in the water. She was rescued but suffered a fractured skull. She still didn't quit working on ships!! She kept working right through WWII and retired in her early 60's. She died of heart disease, not a sinking ship. *I was lucky enough to have her ticket in Branson once, the only time I ever "survived" a trip to the museum. 

April 20, 1912
On this date, McKay and Bennett started recovering bodies from the wreckage site. It took a lot of research but I finally found some good sources/books for accurate information on the retrieval process.
There were four companies hired to complete the task, McKay and Bennet was the first and when it became apparent there was no way they could handle it alone, three more companies were hired. Cable Ship Minia would be sent to the site, followed by the Montmagny and Algerine.
M&B stats:
306 bodies recovered
Due to a shortage of embalming fluid, M&B would bury 116 bodies at sea (also the state of the bodies were a factor in this number, but they list the fluid as the main reason). M&B would return to Halifax with 190 bodies including, John Jacob Astor, Isidor Straus, Wallace Hartley (with his violin case strapped to him--I saw this violin in 2017 --if you ever get a chance to see it you should)
CS Minia stats:
17 bodies recovered
They would bring 15 bodies back to Halifax and bury 2 unidentified bodies at sea.
CGS Montmagny stats:
4 bodies recovered
They would bury one body at sea and return to Halifax with three bodies.
SS Algerine stats:
1 body recovered
Overall, when the bodies other ships picked up, 337 bodies were recovered. Some were buried at sea, a few were claimed by relatives and 150 were buried in three places in Halifax (I am so excited to be going to the cemeteries this October).
That is it guys, see you next year and at certain dates that important to Titanic history. Thanks for reading.

19 April 2019

Review: When We Left Cuba

When We Left Cuba When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have so many feels about this one. First of all Beatriz just seemed to be able to do it all. I feel deeply in love with her strength and desire. As strong as she was, she was just that stubborn and able to hold grudges. I had no idea when I started this book that I was pretty much going with Beatriz to stare down Castro and the communist government right in the face and while I was with her I would hope that she found that peace she needed, be it with her Nick or some other. I knew how the Cuban part would end, but I found myself rooting that some of these plans would be successful. I was scared at times for everyone's safety. I was thrilled that nothing in the book was predictable and grateful to Ms. Cleeton for creating a world that is sort of magical around a world where evil is everywhere.

I was SOOOO happy with the way things ended in the book. It was pretty much just what I needed Beatriz to have in life.

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10 April 2019

Review: The Girl Who Came Home

The Girl Who Came Home The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book is full of non-fiction facts, it also is full of fiction, BUT I did have a fun journey. Being a Titanic buff, I was not expecting everything to be true, but I was expecting a good story and I think I got that. This story takes place, obviously in 1912, but also 1982. The 1982 storyline was wonderful. I just adored the Grace character and her connection to the 1912 Titanic sailing. I think this is a nice book for someone looking to learn about the Titanic, or just wants to enjoy a quick story.

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07 April 2019

Review: Big Eyes: The Screenplay

Big Eyes: The Screenplay Big Eyes: The Screenplay by Scott Alexander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adored this book. It was the screenplay for the film so if you liked the film, you will like this. I have only seen the film once, but I believe it is the true screenplay of the movie.

If you are not familiar with the movie, it is based on a true story. Margaret is a single mom trying to make ends meet and she meets Walter. Walter sweeps her off her feet and keeps her from losing her daughter in a custody battle. Walter loves that she can paint because he is a painter too. He has ideas that they sell their painting together. He arranges for a "show" to sell their paintings. Folks are only interested in the "Big Eye" paintings of children that Maggie had done. Walter though tell everyone that he did them. Here is where it all starts to get good. I won't spoil it for you in case you have never heard of the tale, but it is a true story and very sad.

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Review: Victoria & Albert: A Royal Love Affair

Victoria & Albert: A Royal Love Affair Victoria & Albert: A Royal Love Affair by Daisy Goodwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was not at all what I wanted in a book. I didn't see it in the title, but this is more a companion book to the series. I was expecting a book like Victoria, a story. I was expecting a look into the marriage of V & A. I guess I got that, but I didn't get the story I wanted. I do know a bit about the marriage thanks to reading other books and I find their relationship fascinating. This book told me about the actors in the series, behind the scenes, about the screenplay and a bit of the story. It was more a compilation of essays. I just couldn't get into this book at all.

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06 April 2019

Review: Victoria

Victoria Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not the best book on Victoria I have read (that would be Jean Plaidy), but it is a very good second. I enjoyed it very much. It is exactly like everything I have read about Victoria. She was a bit of humbug in some ways and totally determined to have her way in everything, at times impulsive and hard-headed, but she loved her people. She loved her Kingdom deeply. I like how the book ended the way it did, it very much left many openings for the future of other books because until recently Victoria did have the longest reign ever.

I have no idea how it compares to the show because I have not seen the show, but the book was very good.

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Review: The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna

The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna by C.W. Gortner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I have read many books about the Romanovs, but it has always been Nicky and Alix and their children. It has always talked about the murders and of course Rasputin. This book took me to a place I have never ventured, Nicky's mom. I adored Minnie's relationship with Sasha. I thought they were a great match, especially considering how their match came about. There were many things I didn't like about Minnie...and also many things I did not like about Alicky. This book brought another spin on why the events in 1919 happened as they did. This has always been a situation I have asked, "what if" and this book brought more questions on my "what if" theories.

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Review: Bus Stop

Bus Stop Bus Stop by William Inge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the play version of the movie. I knew most of the dialogue because I have seen the movie soooo many times. I thought it was brilliantly written. I can see why it was made into the movie. It is about a 1 hour 45-minute read, but quite enjoyable.

Bo has kidnapped the lady of his dreams, Cherie (he calls her Cherry). She is trying to escape with the aid of the people that work in the bus stop where the bus was stranded due to road conditions ahead. Grace, the bus stop owner, may have had an affair with the driver, the sheriff may have assisted Cherie in getting some assistance and the cowboy may have been put in his place. Oh, but there will be a good ending to the tale. If you have seen the film you can figure it out, but if you have not, why not read the screenplay and then go see Miss Monroe in one of her finest roles.

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