Rachel Rhys comes to the blog today with an historic mystery set on a ship bound for Australia and narrated by Katherine Manners. Please read on for my review of
England had long been providing for her colonies, and in the lead up to World War II, there was a need for domestic servants in Australia. Passage and chaperone provided, we meet Lily Shepard as she is one of three in this story chosen for the program. Excited by the opportunity and finding a new world open to her as places, people and experiences unlike those she would have found at home contrast with the sense that she is hiding something big. Aboard ship with normal social restrictions loosed, Lily finds herself drawn to the well-to-do siblings, Edward and Helena, and a scandalous couple Eliza and Max. Throughout the crossing there are black-tie balls, time to explore Pyramids and exotic markets, and in close quarters, time to learn stories from others: Maria Katz, a Jew fleeing Austria and her worries for her family, a fascist-leaning hothead in the form of George Price, and two passengers dead before the ship docks in Sydney.
New experiences and exposure to places and people heretofore unimagined have Lily learning, growing and discovering the inequities in life: many she knew, others she would come to see as she discovers her own place in the world aided by her fascination with the easily bored and often heedless siblings, and her growing ability to see things with an eye to intention and purpose. What she once thought was a vacation and opportunity to redefine herself soon becomes more difficult than simple enjoyment on the way to the next phase of her life.
Full of secrets, revelations and emotional kerfuffle: the crossing becomes a breeding ground in which the early days of bonhomie and free-association between passengers devolves and separates much as if they were still on land, the differences again highlighting behavior, treatment and above all, suspicions all around. The common theme here for all the passengers seemed to be running from rather than embracing the new, and keeping listeners wholly engaged in the look, feel and manners of the era.
Narration for this story is provided by Katherine Manners and she clearly presented the story in ways that engaged and presented the characters that gave listeners instant insight into their status. Subtle voice inflections and pitch differences as well as variance in accents allowed each ‘level’ of society to be presented, each adapting overtones of wonder, privilege, boredom, worry or even anger as required. It’s the story and the growth of Lily here that is to be celebrated as the maelstrom of emotions and actions reveal secrets – some enough to die for. A lovely story full of place and time, carrying a level of tension that builds as the story progresses due to close quarters, revealed secrets and tension about the future as colored by impending war.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 4 Story 4
Title: Dangerous Crossing
Author: Rachel Rhys
Genre: Historical Mystery, Pre World War II
Narrator: Katherine Manners
Published by: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster Audio
Published on: 9 January, 2018
Source: Simon and Schuster Audio
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 6 minutes
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The ship has been like a world within itself, a vast floating city outside of normal rules. But the longer the journey continues, the more confined it is starting to feel, deck upon deck, passenger upon passenger, all of them churning around each other without anywhere to go...
1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.
But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.
A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.