A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice [Book Review] #Titanic #Carpathia #HistoricalFiction

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly

 In A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice, Captain Arthur Rostron is decisive and never hesitates to do the right thing.

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly (cover) Image: an iceberg is surrounded by ocean water

Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Titanic and Carpathia, Rescue, Atlantic Ocean

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My Summary of A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice:

Some people run toward danger. On April 15, 1912,  Arthur Rostron, captain of the Carpathia, hears a distress call from the Titanic. The captain answers the call at great risk to his ship and his passengers’ discomfort and doesn’t hesitate to order a change of course and prepare for a rescue. This is not without risk because he will be heading into the same icy waters that damaged the Titanic. Kate Connolly is a third-class passenger on the Titanic and among the last to secure a spot on a lifeboat. She watches in horror as the Titanic sinks and hears the cries of people in the water. Kate and other rescued passengers board the Carpathia. A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice is told from both their perspectives in alternating chapters.

Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia

Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia

My Thoughts About A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice:

He Never Hesitates

The story of the sinking of the Titanic is a familiar story, and most of us have probably seen the movie. However, I have never read a story about the ship that rescued the survivors until now. Told from two perspectives (a passenger on the Titanic and the captain of the Carpathia), the rescue was the most compelling and fascinating part of the story for me. It took a great deal of courage for Captain Rostron to attempt a rescue in the same dark, frigid, icy waters that damaged the Titanic. I appreciate hearing about the risk it involved and about his loyal and competent crew. Unsung heroes.

A Coincidence?

It’s not a coincidence that the author’s surname matches that of a rescued passenger, Kate Connolly. The author, Rebecca Connolly, deliberately chose a name from the survivor’s list that matched her own.

A Moral and Ethical Dilemma

I love that the author explores the captain’s inner turmoil as he weighs his moral and ethical choices and leans heavily on his faith. For me, this is the most compelling part of the story. I understand why we needed a passenger’s perspective, but I was always eager to return to the Carpathia’s perspective as the passengers sacrifice heat (turned off to give more coal to the engines), share their own clothing, give up their leisure space, etc. Captain Rostron manages to balance the logistics of the rescue as well as his own passengers’ physical and emotional concerns. I love that his crew members are loyal and perform as a team, It’s truly an example of leadership and doing the “right thing.”

I Wish…

My only wish is that the author hadn’t dropped the storyline of the boy that Julia took with her in the rescue boat. She promises his dad that she will look after him and after they boarded the Carpathia, this thread is dropped. I think that is a missed opportunity for a poignant storyline, and it distracted me a bit because I kept wondering about him.

Thank you Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Blog for bringing this book to my attention. This was also Davida’s contribution to my Summer’s One Must-Read Book post.

Recommending A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice

I’m enthusiastically recommending this compelling account of the Titanic tragedy from the rescue perspective. Fans of stories about inspirational people and unsung heroes will find the story riveting. Book clubs might enjoy this unique perspective of a familiar event and rich discussion possibilities.

My Rating:  4.5  Stars (rounded to 5)

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A brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly (cover) Image: a nighttime ocean scene with a large white iceberg ahead

More Information Here

Meet the Author of A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice, Rebecca Connolly

Author of A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice, Rebecca Connolly

Rebecca Connolly is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She’s always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out. Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place. She has been creating stories since childhood, and there are home videos to prove it! She received a master’s degree from West Virginia University, spends every spare moment away from her day job absorbed in her writing, and is a hot cocoa addict.


Is this amazing rescue story on your TBR or have you read it?

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  1. Oh, I forgot all about the boy on the boat when they hand him over to someone – I forget whom. That didn’t bother me, but I can see where that might bother others.

    • I had the feeling she bonded with him (and felt responsible to the dad) so I was surprised to have no follow up or show of concern.

  2. I read this too on Davida’s recommendation. Well, listened to it actually. I really enjoyed hearing the story from a different perspective.

  3. I could have sworn that I read this book — then realized that no, I read a different book about the Carpathia!! I’d like to check this one out too. No matter how much I read about it, I’m still fascinated by the Titanic. Great review!

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