The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic

Overview

More than two thousand men, women, and children are on board. Here on the first-class promenade is millionaire John Jacob Astor, who hopes his return from Egypt with his pregnant teen bride will invite a minimum of media attention. And here, in the third-class common room, a beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers first love. And there in the distance, shrouded in darkness, an ancient iceberg lies patient, awaiting its encounter.

The voices in this...

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Overview

More than two thousand men, women, and children are on board. Here on the first-class promenade is millionaire John Jacob Astor, who hopes his return from Egypt with his pregnant teen bride will invite a minimum of media attention. And here, in the third-class common room, a beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers first love. And there in the distance, shrouded in darkness, an ancient iceberg lies patient, awaiting its encounter.

The voices in this wholly unique re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret (“the unsinkable Molly”) Brown to Captain E.J. Smith, who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of fools with money to lose. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker’s reports, and other historic records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse into the lives of two dozen passengers and crew, told with astounding emotional power.

Advance Praise
“How do you tell a dramatic story when you know that everyone already knows the ending? Allan Wolf has combined meticulous research with open-hearted poetry to craft the story of the Titanic in a fresh and compelling way. A remarkable accomplishment.” - Helen Frost, author of Crossing Stones and Hidden

“Allan Wolf has imagined his way deep into the cold, dark waters of history and has come back carrying a couple of dozen voices that he discovered there, voices whose authenticity is not only convincing but compelling. With the publication of this fine book, we know at last - and we know as well as sisters and brothers - some of the people who went down with the Titanic.” - Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wolf (Zane's Trace) constructs a richly textured novel in verse that recreates the Titanic's ill-fated journey, predominantly through the voices of her passengers. The speakers include John Jacob Astor, ("the unsinkable") Margaret Brown, Captain E.J. Smith, and little-known individuals whose stories Wolf draws from research and archival materials. A Lebanese refugee, traveling alone with her brother, finds first love; a tailor, accompanied by his two sons, anguishes over his broken marriage; and a gambler cons his way through the first-class passengers' pocketbooks. A ship rat speaks, as does the iceberg itself-a choice that could have become esoteric ("I am the ice. I have no need of wings./ I only need the hearts Titanic brings")-but earns its place within a composite that includes colloquial speech, introspective interior monologues, and rhyming poetry. Throughout, sequences flash forward to an undertaker's handling of the bodies ("Bodies scattered for miles, in every direction./ Bodies as far as my indifferent eyes can see"), assuring that the ending is never in question. But Wolf's carefully crafted characters evolve as the voyage slides to its icy conclusion; readers may be surprised by the potency of the final impact. Ages 14-up.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
A masterpiece. Wolf leaves no emotion unplumbed, no area of research uninvestigated, and his voices are so authentic they hurt. Everyone should read it.
—Booklist (starred review)

Wolf constructs a richly textured novel in verse that recreates the Titanic's ill-fated journey, predominantly through the voices of her passengers... Wolf's carefully crafted characters evolve as the voyage slides to its icy conclusion; readers may be surprised by the potency of the final impact.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Twenty-four voices-of passengers, rats and even the iceberg-evoke the human tragedy of the ill-fated voyage. Wolf brings the history and, more importantly, the human scale of the event to life by giving voice to the players themselves . . . A lyrical, monumental work of fact and imagination that reads like an oral history revved up by the drama of the event.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Wolf's novel in verse gives voice, through first-person accounts, to a cross section of passengers and crew on the Titanic: how they boarded, why they're there, and how they face the disaster. . . . The themes of natural disaster, technology, social class, survival, and death all play out here.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Twenty-four voices in verse chronicle the sole voyage of the Titanic. Even the iceberg and the ship's rat "speak" in these pages. The resulting record of the brief voyage gives readers an emotional punch. The strength of the effect is astonishing given that the ship sank nearly one hundred years ago and has been the stuff of legend ever since. Featured voices include those of well-known passengers such as John Jacob Astor and Margaret (the Unsinkable Molly) Brown, as well as those not so well known. Some of them perish, some of them survive, and all of them have stories to tell. The facts that are revealed by the narrative (e.g., there were only twenty lifeboats that would each hold forty people for a ship carrying over 2,000 passengers and crew) are stunning, and the voices range from the desperate to the complacent. Novels in verse are popular with young adults, and this one will not disappoint. Nice features include a list of the passengers, a list of facts about the famed ship, extensive references and biographical information about each of the voices. An author's note at the end describes Wolf's interpretation of some of the mysteries that still exist about the passengers. Very enthusiastically recommended. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
VOYA - Suanne Roush
On April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. The tragedy of the "unsinkable" ship still fascinates nearly a century after it occurred. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, Wolf has recreated the story of the Titanic in verse form from the viewpoints of two dozen characters—from passengers of all classes and crew to the undertaker from Halifax, the iceberg, and a rat—and covers the time from the design and building of the ship through the aftermath of the sinking. The poems are no longer than two pages, and telegraph messages are interspersed throughout. Some of the most fascinating are those by the businessman who decided that the first-class passengers would rather have an unimpeded view than more lifeboats; Molly Brown, whose grit and determination helped save those in her lifeboat; and the undertaker who deals with the aftermath. Included in a notes section at the end are character notes on the people who tell the story, a list of passengers mentioned who were both lost and saved, Morse Code messages used in the narrative, miscellany, and an impressive bibliography including Internet sources and societies. That section alone should guarantee its inclusion in any collection, especially high school (where the resources could be used for research and the verse for English, history, or drama class presentations) and public libraries. Reviewer: Suanne Roush
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Talented poet, Allan Wolf, incorporates both accurate historical accounts and his own speculative research into his captivating novel in verse (Candlewick, 2011), an imagined account of the Titanic's ill fated voyage. With 24 personal narratives ranging in perspective from the ship's captain to a refugee in the third class to the iceberg itself, the story unfolds from preparations and boarding to evacuation attempts and the body collections by coroners. The ensemble narrators unfold another brilliant facet of this historical fiction gem, providing varied accents and nuances for each character. This phenomenal audio version of a stirring story should be part of all high school and public library collections.—Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455829385
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Allan Wolf, an expert poet and storyteller, is the author of the award-winning New Found Land: Lewis and Clark's Voyage of Discovery and the YA novel Zane's Trace. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Watch That Ends the Night is a moving piece of historical fi

    The Watch That Ends the Night is a moving piece of historical fiction told in verse, with over 20 POVs. Its a haunting, often foreshadowing look at the lives of those aboard the Titanic in the days leading up to and directly following its tragic sinking.

    Before the start of Titanic's maiden voyage we are introduced to a massive amount of characters from all different economic and social backgrounds. With so many POVs it can be a bit confusing at first remembering who is who, especially with the crew. Thankfully most of the characters have a very particular way of talking and their own unique backstory helping to distinguish them from one another. Its hard to narrow down which characters stood out the most (Captain E.J. Smith and Margaret Brown are obvious choices) but I actually found myself connecting more with some of the lesser know passengers such as Jamila (a Lebanese refugee) and Olaus (a Norwegian immigrant).

    The pacing of this novel is a tricky thing because I found myself completely invested in the characters and story right from the start, how could I not be, but then it started to drag in the middle. While I wish the pace could have remained the same, I understood the need for the slower, quieter moments. The normalcy of day to day life aboard the ship made everything feel all the more real, since none of the passengers anticipated what was to come next. When Titanic collides with the iceberg the slow pace is gone in seconds and you will find it completely impossible to put the book down until you've learned the fate of all the characters on board.

    To say this novel is overwhelming at times would be a huge understatement. The chaos is tangible and electric making the reader feel angry and helpless. I cried while reading it and my heart broke for the crew who tried to help knowing there wasn't much they could do. For the third class passengers who couldn't speak English and didn't fully understand what was going on. For the people who were left on the ship as it sank knowing there was no where to go and for the families that were torn apart never to be reunited.

    The research and facts author Allan Wolf shares at the end of the novel are just as remarkable as the novel itself. 20+ pages of notes help shed light on how much of the story is fact versus fiction as well as the actually life stories of those that lived through and died in the disaster.

    If you're a fan of verse, historical fiction or the Titanic then this novel is a must read. If you're not, then I would still encourage you to give it a chance since I've never read a book quite like it nor do I predict that I will again. Obviously this novel left quite an impression on me, one that can best be summed up in this harrowing line written by one of the survivors.

    "My tears fall when I think about it, because I saw what I will never forget as long as I live."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

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