Book Review: Hearts That Survive

13 Apr

In April 1912, Lydia Beaumont is on her way to a new life with a boundless hope, against all that Craven Dowd desires for her and himself. Her friendship with Caroline Chadwick deepens as they plan Lydia’s wedding on board the “grandest ship ever built.” Then both women suffer tragic losses when the “unsinkable” Titanic collides with an iceberg and there are only 20 lifeboats for 2207 passengers. They struggle to keep their families and dreams together.

Decades later, Caroline’s granddaughter, working at the museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, plans for the 50th memorial for the sinking and contacts survivors and descendants of survivors. Alan Morris feels like a failure until he discovers he is the descendant of an acclaimed novelist who lost his life when the Titanic sank. He becomes caught up in finding his identity in the past and must come to terms with his present and the meaning of true success.

Characters struggle to answer whether love is more powerful than the pain of loss and learn what it means for a heart to survive.

Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the Titanic is Yvonne Lehman’s 50th novel. She is a best-selling, award winning author who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years and now directs the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat held annually in October (www.lifeway.com/novelretreat). She lives in Black Mountain, amid the panoramic views of the Blue Ridge. She mentors students for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned her Master’s Degree in English at Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level.

You can visit Yvonne Lehman’s website at www.yvonnelehman.com.

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My Impressions:

Hearts That Survive is much more than just another Titanic story.  The sinking of the unsinkable ship is just the beginning for a story of how the tragedy affected not only survivors, but their friends and family.  Yvonne Lehman’s story begins in the opulent 1st class on the Ship of Dreams.  Lydia Beaumont, young, beautiful and an heiress, is living a fairy tale when she marries John Ancell on the grand staircase just hours before the ship hits the iceberg.  What should have been the happiest day of her life, is soon filled with nightmare images and sounds. Others who attended her wedding survive the disaster; many do not. Hearts That Survive tells the story of how survivors begin a new life — a life forever marked and influenced by one crucial day.  Spanning 50 years, the novel portrays lost lives, loves, secrets kept and new beginnings.

Lehman’s novel is not a happily ever after romance, although there are quite a few happy endings.  But like real life, it shows the pain of loss, the danger of secrets, and the ability for God to turn ashes to beauty and mourning into joy. The spiritual message is subtle, becoming more of a way of life for many of the characters rather than a platform for preaching.  The characters are realistic and relatable (if that’s a word!).

They are not perfect and act in ways that are frustrating at times — just like in real life!.  The book also offers a look into the distinct class culture of the pre-WWI era and the changes brought about during the first half of the 20th century.

Hearts That Survive is a good book for those who like historical novels and those wanting a character driven plot.

Recommended.

(I received Hearts That Survive from Pump Up Your Book in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)


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