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Publication Date: 4/5/22
Retail Price: $26.99
Page Count: 320
Cover art: Chris Clor / Getty Images; Jarmo Piironen / EyeEm / Getty Images
Book design: © Shadow Mountain
Art Direction: Richard Erickson
Design: Heather G. Ward
***I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own***
Based on the remarkable true story of the Carpathia—the one ship and her legendary captain who answered the distress call of the sinking Titanic.
Shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, wakes to a distress signal from the Titanic, which has struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Though information is scarce, Rostron leaps into action, determined to answer the call for help. But the Carpathia is more than four hours away, and there are more questions than answers: Will his ship hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if he also strikes an iceberg? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?
Kate Connolly is a third-class passenger on Titanic, and she is among the last to receive instruction and help after it hits an iceberg. Despite the chaos of abandoning ship, Kate is able to board a lifeboat, though after seeing the Titanic sink into the abyss and hearing the cries from hundreds of people still in the water, she wonders if any rescue is even possible.
Told in alternating chapters from both Captain Rostron and Kate Connolly, this novel is a compelling, heart-pounding account of two eyewitnesses to an epic disaster. Rostron’s heroic and compassionate leadership, his methodical preparations for rescue, and his grit and determination to act honorably and selflessly to save lives and care for the survivors sets the course for this awe-inspiring story.
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Reading A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is an experience. Readers are immediately whisked away to April 14, 1912, the day before the great Titanic sank.
The story is told from two perspectives, Captain Arthur Rostron of the ship Carpathia, and Kate Connolly from Ireland whose heading to America sailing on the brand new ship, The Titanic. I really liked how the story went between these two real-life people in the same time frame. Once I started reading this book, I was drawn into the novel and I literally could not stop.
While reading this historic fiction, you know the ultimate outcome but readers have never seen the story played out like this. I found it fascinating to read about the humble and wise Captain Rostron who commandeered the only ship that came to the rescue of the survivors of The Titanic. He should be viewed as a Hero but he justified his actions by saying he just did the "right thing". Author Rebecca Connolly writes the tension and angst so well you can feel the fear as if you were there. I was also quite moved by how the passengers of the Carpathia gave up their cabins, clothes, food, and money for all of the Titanic survivors brought aboard. Everyone jumped in to help despite their social status.
A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is an emotional read of bravery and steadfastness. It's the story of The Titanic that has never been told before. It's a novel that I highly recommend. History lovers will want to read this and anyone interested in The Titanic. The author did an outstanding job.
***Meet Author Rebecca Connolly***
REBECCA CONNOLLY is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She’s always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out.
Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place. She received a master’s degree from West Virginia University.
Learn more about Rebecca and her books at rebeccaconnolly.com
For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org
****Author Interview With Rebecca Connolly****
What inspired you to write A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice?
I visited the Titanic museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2015, and it made the history of the Titanic more real to me than it ever had before. One of the final parts of the exhibit talked about the rescue, and it mentioned the Carpathia and Captain Arthur Rostron. I had never heard either of those names, so I decided to look them up when I came home. What I found was as inspiring as it was unexpected, and I knew almost at once that the real story needed to be told and I wanted to be the one to tell it!
What is unique to this story that people may not generally know about the Titanic sinking and the rescue by the Carpathia?
In the wake of the Titanic sinking, the disaster portion of the story has been what has lingered throughout history and the minds of generations to follow. The movie from 1997 has given a solid view of the sinking itself, though some details are inaccurate, but the rescue is practically skipped over. What is unique about this story is that we see what led up to the rescue, the miraculous events that transpired to get Carpathia to the disaster site when it did, and what happened to the survivors once they were pulled from the sea.
Are you related to the main character, Kate Connolly?
Sadly, I cannot find a direct connection to her. The Connolly line in both her family and my own ancestors gets fairly muddled back in Ireland due to how common the surname is there and the records of the time. I’m still looking, though!Kate Connolly
What do you hope readers take away from this novel?
I hope readers remember the power of doing what is good and right, no matter the consequences, and that we can honor Captain Arthur Rostron and the Carpathia whenever we think of Titanic.
Writing historical fiction is something different than you're used to. What did you find most challenging and/or exciting about writing this book?
The research is HARD. The sheer amount of work involved in getting the details as accurate as possible is staggering—way worse than any reports I had to do throughout my education! But it also brings the story to life in a beautiful, powerful way, and, if you’re lucky, it draws you further into the depths there, which makes telling that story more personal.
How did you conduct your research for A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice?
I was lucky with this book. There are scores of very dedicated historians and Titanic researchers who have created a very different databases that contain a wealth of information. That was my starting point. I also discovered a database of the US and British Inquiry proceedings that had full transcripts, which was a gold mine! There were also biographies, survivor accounts, crew accounts… It was a nice blend of digital references as well as books!
What was something new you learned about this event
while conducting your research?
I had no idea that the rescue ship had to go through an ice field to get to the survivors! It makes sense, but somehow, I had never considered that.
Why should readers pick up this novel?
I think readers should pick this up because we think we know the story of the Titanic, but we don’t know as much as we think we do! There is so much more to the story, and this book gives us an inside look!
Why do you think the story of Titanic resonates so strongly
with people 110 years later?
There is something about disasters and tragedies that still pulls at us as human beings, whether it is a brutal war, a struggle for a crown, or the sinking of an ‘unsinkable’ ship. Titanic still resonates because of its impact on the world, because of its catastrophic losses, and because even now, we still can’t look away. We want to be on the ship to see the finery and smell the fresh paint, we want to watch the lifeboats cast off, we want to see families reunited, we want to feel our skin tingle with the cold. But sometimes we romanticize the Titanic and its sinking, and I hope that this book reminds us of the reality of its loss.
What inspired your decision to choose Captain Rostron as one of the two perspectives for this story?
Arthur Rostron was one of the most compelling human beings I have ever come across in my life, and his story just moved me. He was a simple man of faith who dedicated his life to the sea, and yet he made a split-second decision that saved the lives of 705 people, risking the lives of his passengers, his crew, and himself to do so. But when he was asked about his actions afterward, he never claimed to be doing anything more than what was right. He did not see himself as a hero; just as a sailor who tried to do his duty.Captain Arthur Rostron
Where can readers connect with you?
Lots of places!
Website or Blog https://rebeccaconnolly.com
Facts About The Titanic
-20: the number of horses needed to transport the main anchor.
-$7,500,000: the cost of building the RMS Titanic.
-269.1 meters: the length of the Titanic (882 feet 9 inches). -220 to 245 feet: the estimated length of the gash caused by the collision (minimum to maximum length).
-10,000: the approximate number of lamp bulbs used on the ship.
-There were 840 staterooms in all, 416 in First Class, 162 in Second Class, and 262 in Third Class.
-825 tons: the amount of coal used per day. Sister ship Olympic, comparable in size but with lower gross register tons of 45,324, had a daily coal consumption of around 674 tons.
-1,050 tons: the amount of coal used per day by the Cunard ships, which although faster were also smaller and much less fuel-efficient.
-13: the number of honeymooning couples on the voyage. -49%: the percentage of passenger places that went unused (the loss of life could have been far great still).
-64: the number of lifeboats the Titanic ship could have been capable of carrying
-48: the number of lifeboats originally planned for the Titanic
-20: the number of lifeboats Titanic actually carried
-472: the number of lifeboat spaces that went unused.
-20: the number of people said to have canceled their plans to sail aboard the Titanic after dreaming that she would sink.
-60 minutes: the delay between the collision and the first Titanic lifeboats launching. The Titanic, like her sister ship Olympic, had not been fitted with any form of public address system.
58 miles: distance of the rescue vessel Carpathia, at the time of the distress call.
-15-45 minutes: the typical maximum life expectancy of the Titanic victims in the water. At 11.40pm on 14 April 1912, the RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg At around 2.20am on 15 April, the Titanic disappeared beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean Striking the water was like a thousand knives being driven into one’s body. The temperature was 28 degrees, four degrees below freezing.
-Charles Lightoller: Titanic Second Officer,
"Colonel John Jacob Astor IV was the wealthiest passenger onboard and believed to be one of the richest people in the world at the time, with a personal fortune that was estimated at between $90- 150 million, which today would make him a billionaire a few times over. You could actually walk miles along the decks and passages covering different ground all the time. I was thoroughly familiar with pretty well every type of ship afloat but it took me 14 days before I could, with confidence, find my way from one part of that ship to another." -Charles Lightoller, Titanic Second Officer
Read An Excerpt From
A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice
Excerpt 1: Pages 43-49 Chapter Five RMS Carpathia • April 14, 1912 • 8:00 PM
“Messages, sir.” Arthur turned in mild surprise to see Harold Cottam, the young Marconi operator, standing behind him and holding out a few slips of paper. He and Officers Hankinson, Dean, and Bisset had been chatting on the bridge about the day’s events and what they anticipated for tomorrow, just as they did every evening before Arthur retired, and he hadn’t expected anything else. He’d forgotten all about the messages received over the radio.
He smiled at the young man. “Ah, thank you. Anything good?”
Cottam shrugged. “Ice warnings from the Mesaba and Californian. Passenger messages otherwise. The Marshalls will be delighted; their nieces are on Titanic and sent them a line or two.”
“And how are things on Titanic?”
“Apparently quite perfect, sir.”
Arthur grunted once, shaking his head. “As is to be expected, no doubt.” He paused, looking over the papers. “Gentlemen, consider the ice warnings from Mesaba and Californian noted, but they are all well to the north of our course.”
The stoic Hankinson gave a brisk nod. “Yes, Captain,” Dean replied. “Noted, sir.” Bisset also nodded his affirmation.
Arthur nodded at his officers—excellent men, all of them—and then turned to Cottam. “Did I hear that you know the Marconi man aboard Titanic?”
Cottam seemed surprised by the question and nodded. “Yes, sir. Jack Phillips.”
Arthur tapped the messages received into the palm of his hand, but Cottom offered no more information. He raised a brow. “Well, be sure and greet him from all of us while we’re in range of them.”
“Thank you, Captain. I will.” Cottam dipped his chin, turned on his heel, and moved down the ladder back the way he had come. As simple as that. Cottam would send the message—likely now, as it happened. Would the marvels of the world never cease? Arthur glanced at his second officer, smiling. “Wonderful thing, wireless, isn’t it?” Seeming to understand his amusement, Bisset nodded. “Indeed, sir.” Dean scoffed a laugh into a fist, but said nothing.
“Now, then,” Arthur said, feeling the length of the day setting in. “Bisset, it is just after eight. You have the watch until ten. Dean, you’re on after. Hankinson, you are relieved for the night. I’ll walk the deck, mark our course, and then retire.”
“Right you are, Captain.” Dean clipped a firm nod, as though the action accompanied the weight of command in the captain’s absence. One day, in the not too distant future, Dean would bear the weight of command fully, Arthur had no doubt about that. He turned from the bridge and leisurely made his way out to the promenade deck, the cool night air greeting him as an old friend. A few couples strolled along the deck as well, looking out at the brilliant night sky and its reflection in the ocean. Arthur felt far more relaxed and at ease than he had for days, and he paused to fully appreciate the view around him. It was a clear night, and such a sight was magical on the open sea. That was something he hoped never to grow accustomed to, no matter how many nights he spent upon the waves. The sound of the ship parting the water and the occasional wave slapping against the ship were the most soothing sounds in the world. Though the steamships were large enough that the roll of the water and the tide was almost never felt, every now and then, Arthur missed the sensation. He greeted a few of the couples and families politely as they passed him, though none stopped for conversation. He was glad of it. This moment was for him and for the sea, though there was never an opportunity to enjoy true serenity while in command. Duty, responsibility, honor—they called on him first. Only when the ship was near to its destination would he fully relax, fully be at ease, and fully feel able to breathe. Yet he loved the command as well. There was no rest in it, but there was satisfaction. Which was, in itself, a kind of rest. Here, on the sea, he knew his place and his course. He knew clarity, and he knew his abilities, both of which allowed him a dignity essential to his position. All for love of the sea. Respect for her, and patronage of her. Never mastery, only navigation. She was a fickle creature, the sea. And how he adored her.
All too soon, he was alone on the deck and the lateness of the hour upon him. He turned to retreat to his cabin, touching the brim of his hat at a passing couple making one more venture into the night. He removed his hat the moment he entered his cabin, tossing it onto the desk filling one side of his room. It was a neat, tidy room, hardly better than the cabins his officers enjoyed, aside from a bit more space and the connection to the chart room. His cabin was also more conveniently located to the bridge, but beyond that . . .Well, an able seaman only needed a proper place to lay his head when he took his rest. Arthur quickly undid the buttons of his jacket and shrugged out of it, hanging it in the bureau. He brushed at the fabric, though it was still as pristine as it had been that morning. Somehow, it never seemed to tarnish as the day went on. He worked at the buttons of his waistcoat next, followed by his white shirt. Collar, cuffs, and tie were pulled off and set on his desk with his hat. He stared at the pieces of his uniform, then exhaled the weight of a full day’s work before moving to his bed. He set his pocket watch on the bedside table, as usual, then picked up his Bible. He never slept right without reading some verses to set his thoughts heavenward, and he never dared make his account of the day without the proper perspective. When he couldn’t manage to read another word, let alone write one, he completed his undressing and donned his nightshirt. Murmuring a few words of prayer, he laid his head down on his pillow, closed his eyes, and welcomed his sleep.
*** “Captain!” The door to Arthur’s cabin was thrown open, and thundering feet entered, light bursting into the small space with nearly as much urgency as the people accompanying it. He squinted, fumbling for his pocket watch, the numbers blurring before his eyes. Half-past twelve, was it? Who the dickens was the cheeky beggar coming into his cabin at this time of night—and without knocking? They were about to get a quick lesson in ship etiquette they would not soon forget.
Groaning as the lights in his cabin suddenly flicked on, Arthur closed his eyes, trying for patience in spite of his weariness.
“First Officer Dean, knocking before entering is generally—”
“It’s the Titanic, sir,” Dean interrupted, his voice nearing a frantic pace and pitch. “We’ve just received an urgent distress message. She’s struck ice and is sinking fast. She requires immediate assistance.”
It was what? Instantly alert, Arthur sat up and swung his legs over the bed. He stared at his first officer. Dean was by no means an alarmist, but he looked as terrified as though they themselves had struck ice. The same horror, the same cold depth, suddenly sank into Arthur’s stomach. And that decided everything. “Mr. Dean, turn the ship around, steer northwest. I’ll work out the course for you in a moment.” Dean nodded, already darting out of the cabin. How far were they from Titanic? Northwest was the general direction, he knew, but what was the range? How soon could they get there? How bad was it? So many questions. And decisions upon decisions would need to be made very shortly.
Arthur pushed to his feet and turned, spotting Cottam, whose eyes were as wide as the moon herself. “Mr. Cottam, are you sure it’s the Titanic?”
Cottam swallowed. “Yes, sir.”
“You are absolutely certain?”
A nod. “Quite certain, sir.”
“And you are equally as certain that she needs our assistance?”
Cottam squared his jaw. “I am, sir.”
Arthur held the lad’s eyes for a moment, assured by the certainty he saw there more than the words he heard. “All right. Come with me, I need to plot our course. Message them and tell them that we are coming as fast as we can.” He moved into the chart room adjacent to his cabin, waving for Cottam to follow, which the lad did, nearly stepping on his heels. Arthur quickly moved a chair out of their path and shoved the top two charts out of the way, finding the one he needed beneath them. “Right.” Eying the charts, Arthur’s mind began to spin, calculating the course, his heart pounding. “Were you given a position?”
Cottam thrust a slip of paper into Arthur’s hand. “Here, sir.”
Arthur glanced at it, his heart beating a thunderous tempo. He read it twice more, committing the position to memory. 41°46’ N, 50°14’ W. “Who calculated this?” Arthur asked, flicking his eyes to Cottam. “Did they say?”
Cottam shrugged, the motion tense and angled. “An officer, sir. That’s all I know.”
Arthur’s eyes darted back to the chart, marking his position in relation to the Titanic’s with a stub of a pencil. They were not as close as he would like to be, not nearly close enough, but he wasn’t about to let that stop them. Other boats would have heard the call and replied to her message as well, so all he had to do was get his ship there as fast as he could and be prepared for whatever they might face. He ran his fingers over the positions again, double- and triple-checking, nodding to himself before turning to Cottam. “Very good. Tell them we’re on our way. Tell them . . . tell them four hours.”
Cottam rushed from the room, leaving behind an eerie silence broken only by Arthur’s racing heart. It thudded anxiously against his chest, each beat bringing with it more pressure. Arthur found it almost difficult to breathe, but there was no time to think about that. His hands flew across the familiar charts again, details and figures appearing and forming with an ease he had rarely known before. There was no time for questions, hesitations, or doubts. Only action. “Four hours,” he murmured, shaking his head. “I’ll make it less if there’s any way.” But whether there would be any way was another matter altogether. He nodded to himself and hurried back into his cabin, flinging off his nightshirt and tugging back on his uniform. He did up the buttons as quickly as his shaking fingers could manage, doing his best to steady his breathing. He tugged on his jacket and reached for his hat, pausing for a moment. Bowing his head, the words fled from his lips. “Father God, let us get to them. Guide our hands and our feet, our ship, and our hearts. Let it be enough.”
He swallowed, the action harder than he would have liked. The scope of this undertaking grew in his mind by the second. But there was no time for doubts, no time for fears. It was all up to faith and action now. “Amen.” Placing his hat on his head, he strode out to the bridge, a new fervency accompanying his pulse. All thoughts of sleep or peace were erased from his mind. There would be no peace for anyone tonight.
“Reading A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice made me realize that the full story of the tragedy of the unsinkable Titanic hasn't been shared yet. Captain Rostron's decisive and heroic actions as he prepared his crew for what they were about to encounter was inspirational and heartrending. I've found a new hero in a man who never hesitated in doing the right thing.”
—Heather B. Moore, author of The Paper Daughters of Chinatown
“A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is a haunting yet hopeful story of one man's rush to the rescue.”
—Jen Geigle Johnson, author of A Foreign Crown