The Captain’s Daughter began when May and Celeste’s lives intertwined on the fateful night of April 15, 1912 when the Titanic sunk after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage. The distress of the sinking happened early in the novel and seemed very accurate. The author had a way of making the women’s reaction to the experience especially believable. That disaster was the catalyst for the secrets that would plague both women for the rest of their lives.
May traveled on the ship in steerage with her baby and husband. They took off to America to live the immigrant experience and hoped for a better life for themselves. Celeste was a first class passenger who was travelling alone after having buried her mother abroad. They both ended up in the same lifeboat and became lifelong friends after Celeste took it upon herself to help May adjust to life once they reached New York.
The description explained that in the chaos of the sinking, May was separated from her husband and baby. When a baby was later thrust in her arms she assumed it was her child, until several hours later when the sun revealed that she held a stranger. Rather than return the child, she decided to keep her and pretend she was May’s daughter. I thought that was a good premise for a story, but the story was kind of boring despite that big build up. There weren’t any big issues that came as a result of the secret. The child’s father seemed to carry on with his life in a pretty normal way after giving up his search soon after the sinking. May and Celeste remained friends, but the secret didn’t impact them at all.
I was actually a little disappointed with this for several reasons. First of all, the Titanic scenes came and went within the first fifty pages. So the remaining 500 pages were solely devoted to May and Celeste’s lives, which weren’t that interesting. Near the end, May’s daughter attempted to track down her family, but that journey was slow to develop, and I could have gone without reading about her juvenile escapes until that point.
The author had an easy writing style that made this a quick read, and also had a keen ability to describe the emotional depth of each character as they moved through their lives. Those qualities made this a good read.