Surviving Savannah

Berkley. Mar. 2021. 432p. ISBN 9781984803757. $26. F
The 1838 sinking of the steamship Pulaski off the coast of North Carolina—the Titanic of its time—comes to life in this dual-timeline narrative. In the 21st century, history professor Everly Winthrop has been dealing with survivor’s guilt after the tragic death of her best friend. The discovery of artifacts from the Pulaski, buried at sea for 180 years, offers her the chance to curate an exhibition and to move forward with her life. In 1838, Augusta Longstreet accompanies her brother’s family on the Pulaski for a trip north for the summer. Also onboard is Lilly Forsyth, Augusta’s favorite niece, now wed to a cruel man. During the ship’s sole night at sea, it explodes, sending survivors into the Atlantic. Of its four lifeboats, only two prove seaworthy, and 128 people perish, including the wealthy and their servants. Augusta and Lilly fight to survive, but only one returns to Savannah. Everly’s research into the shipwreck causes her to question fate and consider how tragedy can shape a life. What does a person do when given a second chance to live?
VERDICT Callahan (Becoming Mrs. Lewis) tells a harrowing tale of survival and courage, fate and chance, bringing the actual tragedy of the Pulaski to vivid life.
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