Tag Archives: David W. Shaw

Book Review: “The Sea Shall Embrace Them”

So sorry for the delay in releasing this week’s book review. My family (husband and two children) and I spent our entire day (16 hours) in the car, making our way from my in-laws in Arkansas to our home in coastal North Carolina. It was a long drive, but we’re home safe, and ready to get the holiday season kicked off properly by putting up all our holiday decorations this afternoon.

This week was challenging for me to get all my reading done. Not only did I have a novel’s worth of reading for this challenge, I had a novel to read for my 17th and 18th Century British Literature course, Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews. I could very well have “doubled up” again this week (and would have if I knew a month ago what I know now), because Joseph Andrews was not only a story of a young man traveling from the busy city of London to a home in the countryside, but a coming of age story (which is travel in it’s most important form). 

Without further ado…

This week, the final of the November “Month of Travel” reading, and the 13th book of our challenge, we tackled David W. Shaw’s historical novel The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.


This novel came as a recommendation from my stepfather (hi Grant!) for my husband (the man-boy who doesn’t read… at all). It’s a dramatized telling of a very true story that takes place in 1854, and tells of the tragic collision between two steamships. Shaw and the reader follow the steamship Arctic from its beginning to its destruction, and tells a harrowing tale of the lives lost in the cold Atlantic ocean.

What a sad, sad story! It is truly heart wrenching to read this story. Shaw introduces a cast of characters who were easy to relate with, and hard to say goodbye to. I found myself having moments of anxiety, sorrow, shock and heartbreak while reading this story! Much like watching Titanic, this book tells of a massive destruction and really puts into perspective the loss of life – and how so many people can come to a watery grave in a matter of hours.

I found it shocking to read about the death toll – 400 people were killed in hours, plunged into the cold sea, or dragged down by the sinking ship. Of the survivors (86 in total) only 33 were passengers, and not one woman or child made their way onto the lifeboats. It was so sad to read about men – sailors at that – pushing women and children out of the way (and into the water) to gain a spot in the lifeboat. The resolute Captain Lace fought for the women and children, but was overcome by the desperation of the crew.

While the story was terrific, the writing was brilliant! Shaw really sucks you into the story, making his characters seem like people you have always known, and making the setting feel like you’re there along side the captain, crew and passengers. Shaw did spend a bit of time in the first quarter of the book describing the history of steamships, the Collins line (the company that owned the Arctic) as well as the history of the captain and the ship herself. I felt this was all pretty unnecessary to the story, but it provided a good foundation for the reader to build upon and truly understand the massive devastation the collision caused on both a personal and business level.

I really enjoyed this book, and found the roller coaster of emotions were heightened by the realization of “This story is true! These people all experienced the fear and anxiety and acceptance of their fates!” How terrifying! I am hoping I can convince my husband to pick it up at some point – like me, he is a fan of history, and nautical and military history are his areas of interest.

Did you enjoy the book? What part did you find particularly interesting?


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Week 13 Reading: “The Sea Shall Embrace Them”

Hi everyone! Sorry for the late posting about this week’s reading. My family and I are busy visiting my in-laws in (not-so) sunny Arkansas. This morning, it rained ice. Not my idea of fun, but the setting is gorgeous, and it’s always nice to be around family!

This week we’re reaching the end of our November “Month of Travel” reading, and capping the month off with David W. Shaw’s The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.


This story brings us aboard the American steamship Arctic, and discusses a fateful collision with French steamship Vesta, which killed more than 400 people. The book comes recommended from my stepfather Grant (hi Grant!), and if he goes out of his way to recommend something, I know it’s going to be good! The book jacket comes with great write ups, calling the story “heart-wrenching,” “stunning,” and calls it a story of “anguish and horror, villainy and heroism of duty and death.” Sounds pretty excellent!

I have a feeling this will be another “up until 3am on Saturday morning finishing my book” kind of week, because I have to read an entire novel, and work on three essays for school this week – along with the familial duties of visiting with the in-laws! Wish me luck, and I hope you’re reading along!



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November Reading List

Wow! We are rapidly approaching the end of October (where did the time go?!), and our Halloween reading is coming to an end. One book (Guilty Pleasures) and two reviews (Guilty Pleasures and this week’s reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) left, and then it’s time for our November reading. I figured I should probably release the list (which just got finished now) so you can pick up the books you need if you are following along! Remember, the library is a great resource (and will more than likely have all of these books), or you could more than likely find these books at a used book store and save some money!

November’s theme is the “Month of Travel.” I don’t know why I thought that up, but… we’re stuck with it. I was having a hard time making selections, but I think I put together a good list:

Nov. 3 – 9 – Letters from Amelia – Jean L. Backus


Backus uses real letters from Amelia Earhart, the famous and doomed pilot, to piece together Earhart’s private life. I’ve always found Amelia Earhart to be an interesting subject – mostly because of the mystery surrounding her death – and thought this would be a good chance to pick up a book about her life. The book is a biography, and will be the first biography of our reading challenge.

Nov. 10 – 16 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams


This “travel” book takes place in outer space, and is a great sci-fi comedy book to add to our reading list. When you pick this one up at the library, don’t be intimidated by the size. The book is the first of a series, and has been grouped together with the subsequent books to make one gigantic volume (you might find it under The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), but we’re just reading the first part, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, for this reading challenge. If you continue reading the other books, that’s great! I hope you do (and I hope I’ll get a chance to eventually, also).

Nov. 17 – 23 – Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift


I’m a little ashamed to say I’ve never read this classic novel! I’m looking forward to picking this one up … especially because my new 17th and 18th Century British Literature class requires me to read it this semester, so I’ll be knocking out two birds with one stone! I swear I had this book picked out and paid for (yay used book store $1.50) before this class opened (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it at all because it’s in my textbook). I’m looking forward to reading this book for the first time, and discovering all about Gulliver and his travels.

Nov. 24 – 30 – The Sea Shall Embrace Them – David W. Shaw


This book is a historical, non-fiction account of “The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.” Shaw writes about the 1854 collision between two steamships, and the “harrowing events” that followed. The book came with a wonderful recommendation from my mom (thanks, Mom!), and was passed on to my husband (who needs to be really bored to read a book), so I am making good use of it and putting it into our book challenge. If my mom liked it, I know I will!

So there you have it, folks! Our reading list for November. It’s hard to imagine we’re so close to the end of 2013 already! Head out to your library and get prepared to read along!

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