The Girl on the Carpathia: A Novel of the Titanic (Novels of the Titanic)
by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts

Published: 2021-04-25T00:0
Paperback : 364 pages
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North Atlantic Ocean, 1912.  Kate Royston is a witness to history as the RMS Carpathia responds to ...

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North Atlantic Ocean, 1912.  Kate Royston is a witness to history as the RMS Carpathia responds to the Titanic’s desperate SOS. Kate plans to escape personal tragedy by fleeing to Europe but everything changes when the Carpathia races to save the Titanic's survivors.

Forced to return to New York, Kate abandons her hope of escape and becomes embroiled as a vital witness in the high profile Senate investigation of the disaster.

Fueled by public rage and political in-fighting, the investigation becomes a witch-hunt. Although Kate knows the truth she’s terrified that pitting her eyewitness account against ruthless, powerful men will leave her ruined. As she struggles to make a decision, her heart leads her to two men - a powerful lawman and a handsome young radio operator.

Can Kate find happiness in the midst of tragedy?

Meticulously researched and using actual witness testimony, The Girl on the Carpathia begins where most Titanic stories end and answers the questions “What happened next?” and "Who was to blame?"

The Girl on the Carpathia is a gripping standalone historical novel inspired by real events. If you like passionate characters, surprising revelations, and endearing romances, then you’ll love Eileen Enwright Hodgetts' seamless blend of fact and fiction.

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Kate Royston stood by the rail and felt the wind tugging her hair free of its heavy dark braids. The night was calm but the Carpathia’s steady eastward progress created its own breeze. Looking behind her she could see smoke from the Carpathia’s tunnel creating a grey smudge across the starry night sky. Light from the stars glimmered on the ice surrounding the ship and dark water marked the ship’s careful progress through the scattered drifting floes.? Kate looked at her watch. The hands had inched past midnight bringing her to April 15, 1912 and the birthday she had been dreading. Now she was officially a quarter of a century old, and instead of coming into her inheritance she was fleeing for her life across the cold dark ocean. ? As she stepped away from the rail she narrowly avoided colliding with a man who rushed to reach the rail. Sea sick? They had been at sea for three days but the sea had been calm, the weather clear. A second glance showed her that the man was wearing an officer’s uniform. She took another step away from the rail hoping that her presence would not bring a reprimand. She shouldn’t be here, of course, she should be in the stuffy overheated cabin that she shared with the three children of Marek and Magda Van Buren . ? The man turned away from the rail and addressed her in a panicked voice. “What am I going to do? What would you do?”? She watched a brief blossoming of red light as the officer dragged on a cigarette. “If you’re sea sick, you shouldn’t smoke,” Kate suggested. “Maybe it will make it worse.”? “No, I’m not sea sick. I’m…I’m… Oh God, I have to do something. I didn’t make a mistake. I know what he said. All those people. Oh God.”? The officer flung himself at the rail and Kate reached out and grabbed his sleeve. “Don’t do that,” she begged. “Nothing is that bad. I should know.”? He turned to face her. A spill of light from the bridge-deck above showed her his young agitated face. She had a moment of self-consciousness knowing that her hair was unbraided and beneath her heavy coat she wore only her nightdress. ? “They’re sinking but he won’t believe me.”? “Sinking?” Kate asked in a small voice. “Are we sinking?”? “No, not us. The Titanic.”? “Titanic!” she repeated. “Are you saying that the Titanic is sinking?”? “Yes.”? “But I read the posters. She’s unsinkable.” She patted his arm consolingly. “I think you’re having a bad dream.”? The officer dragged on his cigarette again and gestured with the glowing tip. “Over there, about fifty miles away, the Titanic is going down.”? “You can’t know that.”? “Yes, I can. I’m Harold Cottam, I’m the Radio Officer and I took the message.”? Cottam suddenly tossed his cigarette into the water and began to pace an agitated path along the rail, speaking in a frantic beseeching tone as if Kate could do anything about what he was saying.? “I should have been in bed but I’d taken messages for the Titanic. She had so much traffic through her radio she couldn’t take them all so I was working a relay. I tried earlier in the evening but their operator said for me to shut up because he was working Cape Race. He’d just come in reach of the relay station so he was sending outgoing messages for the passengers. Everyone who is anyone is on the Titanic and she’s due in New York tomorrow so, of course, all the big wigs want to make sure that their flunkies are there to meet them and the society photographers are all in place to take photos for the newspapers. I decided I’d try again later when things had quieted down and so that’s what I did.”? Cottam stopped pacing and snatched off his cap. “I shouldn’t even have been on duty. I was going to send them on and then sign off for the night.” He ran an agitated hand through his hair. “I should already have been off duty but I wasn’t. That means something doesn’t it? It’s not a coincidence. God wanted me to hear them, didn’t he?”? “ I don’t know,” Kate said helplessly. ? “You don’t believe me,” Cottam declared.? “No,” Kate snapped. “I don’t understand you. “ She spoke in the same tone she had used on her father when his drunkenness gave way to babbling self-pity. “Pull yourself together Mr. Cottam and tell me what has happened. I don’t understand all this talk about Marconi and Cape Race but I think I understand that you passed some messages to the Titanic.”? Cottam shook his head vigorously. “No, I didn’t have a chance. I had them lined up ready to transmit but as a soon as I turned on the Marconi and tried to transmit Titanic’s operator flashed in. CQD. CQD.”? “CQD? What does that mean?”? “It’s a distress signal. It means for me to stop transmitting and listen. I asked if it was serious. I thought maybe their operator was just joking with me, or wanted me to stop because he was so busy, so I flashed back and asked if it was serious. He said yes. Come at once. We’ve struck a berg.”? Kate stared around at the vast dark ocean and up at the trail of smoke from the funnels. The Carpathia showed no signs of slowing down or turning. If the officer’s story was true and the Titanic was in trouble, surely the Carpathia would go to her aid, and yet nothing was happening. ? “Where is the Titanic?” she asked. “What direction?”? Cottam gestured with his thumb. “Back that way.”? “Why haven’t we stopped?”? “Because they don’t believe me, just like you won’t believe me. I told the officer of the watch. I told the whole bridge crew and they didn’t believe me.”? “Did you tell the captain?”? “He’s asleep.”? Kate felt the flaring of temper that had so often been her downfall, and had possibly accounted for the fact that she was now very far from home. ? “So what are you going to do? Are you just going to stand there smoking and allow the Titanic to sink because you’re too frightened to tell the captain? ”? Cottam straightened his shoulders. “No, of course not but …”? “But nothing,” Kate snapped. “Go and tell him. Where’s is the captain’s cabin. I’ll come with you. Cottam looked at her hopefully. “Are you someone? I mean, you’re out here on the first-class deck so you must be someone. Perhaps he’ll listen to you.”? Kate shook her head. “I’m no one, but the captain doesn’t know that. Lead the way.”? Cottam indicated a short metal ladder reaching straight up to the forbidden world of the bridge. He waved an inviting hand. “After you, miss.”? Kate hesitated. She had come out on deck in her slippers with her coat buttoned over here nightgown and now Cottam expected her to clamber up a steep ladder while he climbed behind her with a view up her shift. Stop it, she told herself. What does it matter? Suppose the Titanic really is sinking and I’m the only one who can help him speak to the captain. Does it really matter what I’m wearing? He seemed like a well-spoken young man and surely he’d behave like a gentleman.? Without pausing for additional reflection, she scurried up the ladder. The metal rungs bit icily into her hands and her satin-slippered feet were insecure on the rungs but she made it to the top and waited for Cottam as he completed the climb. ? He jammed his hat on his head and pointed the way along a narrow corridor lined with metal doors. At the end of the corridor a bright light revealed the bridge with shadowy figures moving back and forth. Up here on the bridge deck the wind was bitter cold and Kate stepped gratefully into the warmth of the corridor.? “All right,” she said pushing Cottam ahead of her. “Go and do your duty.”? Cottam straightened his shoulders and moved along the corridor stopping halfway down to knock on an anonymous door and announce himself in a shaky voice. “Wireless message, Captain.”? Something akin to a questioning bear growl rumbled from the other side of the door and Cottam replied. “Captain Rostron, sir, we’ve a message from the Titanic. Urgent.”? The door opened revealing a shadowy form in a dressing gown.? “What message? Why are you here? Take it to the bridge.”? “Begging your pardon, sir, but the bridge don’t believe me.”? Captain Rostron stepped out into the corridor in a state of undress. Kate pressed her back against the wall. Now was not the time to be seen.? “What’s the message?” Rostron asked.? “She’s sinking, sir. The Titanic’s going down.”? “Titanic?” Rostron queried. “Are you sure it’s her.”? Cottam’s voice was steady now. He had moved beyond panic. “Quite sure, sir. She’s close by, sir.” “I’ll be the judge of that,” Rostron barked. “Give me the message. Word for word.”? Cottom’s words came in a breathless rush. “Fortyone fortysix north, fifty fourteen west. Come at once. We have struck a berg.”? Rostron nodded. “She’s close. We may be the only ones. Tell me your name again.”? “Harold Cottam, sir.”? “Well, Harold Cottam, do you have any reason to doubt what you heard?”? “No, sir.”? “Very well. I will choose to believe you and act accordingly.””? Rostron untied the belt of his dressing gown revealing a rumpled white shirt and black pants. He stepped back into the cabin and emerged a moment later buttoning his jacket. Kate remained pressed against the wall. She should leave. She had done all she could do and she didn’t belong on the bridge, or anywhere in the officer’s quarters. Unfortunately she could not make her mind tell her feet to move. She had no wish to creep back to the outer deck and slither back down the ladder. She told herself that she would wait until the captain was on the bridge with all of his attention on changing Carpathia’s heading and then she would leave.? Rostron stood in the center of the corridor with his back to her bellowing orders. Officers in dark jackets with gold braided sleeves swarmed from the bridge into the corridor.? Kate remained rooted to the spot as Rostron issued a flood of orders.? “Turn us around.”? “Get me the Chief Engineer.”? “Turn out all hands”? “Divert all steam to engines. Yes, the cabins will be cold, but not as cold as the Titanic. Get me the purser. We need blankets, warm food, clear every inside space you can. Titanic has two thousand passengers and for all I know we’ll have to take all of them.”? Rostron turned to Cottam who was almost lost from sight in the press of officers. “Tell her we’re coming. Four hours at the most, sooner if we can. Stay by the radio. I want to hear every message from every ship. I hope to God someone is closer than we are.”... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1. After 110 years and so many books and movies, why is there still so much interest in the Titanic?

2. Did reading this book change your opinion as to what happened?

3. What was your favorite part of the book?

4. Did you race to the end or was it more of a slow burn?

5. Who was your favorite character and why?

6. What was your biggest surprise?

7. Did Kate choose the right man?

8. What is your “take away” from this story?

9. What did you think of the actual writing?

10. Would you read another book by this author?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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