Published September 4, 2018
The Glass Ocean
By Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
Published September 4, 2018
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From the New York Times bestselling authors of The Forgotten Room comes a captivating historical mystery, infused with romance, that links the lives of three women across a century—two deep in the past, one in the present—to the doomed passenger liner, RMS Lusitania.
Her finances are in dire straits and bestselling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history. Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced Member of Parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe….
Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, pre-occupied with business…and something else that she can’t quite put a finger on. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect—but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander, and take charge of her own life….
Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the United States and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems….
As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives…and history itself.
“Williams, Willig, and White form a spectacularly winning team…the result is an unputdownable thriller.” —Publishers Weekly starred review
“Williams, Willig, and White (The Forgotten Room, 2016) work together again to create a riveting historical mystery… “Team W” takes readers on a voyage, filled with twists and turns, in which secrets abound, no one can be trusted, and history isn’t always what it seems.” —Booklist
“…The Glass Ocean [is] a mesmerizing historical mystery that links three fictional women… combining adventures surrounding the Great War with the drama of an epic historical event for a tale of obsession, romance and espionage… Their commingled voices deliver a smoothly constructed narrative without a hitch, so readers never lose the flow or fall out of the story.” —Book Page
“Team W has struck gold again with a sensational tale of drama, espionage, and passion on the high seas in their latest collaboration. Three brilliantly twisty plots plus a trio of hard-headed, unpredictable heroines add up to one immensely satisfying read.” —Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Masterpiece
“The Glass Ocean is well plotted, seamlessly well written, and laced with all kinds of fun period details.”—BookReporter.com
“A trio of talented historical fiction writers have teamed up again for a stunning mystery spanning the centuries in The Glass Ocean… The authors’ depiction of life aboard the Lusitania during its fateful final voyage is rich and well-researched. The shifting perspectives keep the story constantly moving and changing, like the rolling of a ship on the waves, and twists abound on both sides of the ocean and the time gap… The Glass Ocean takes us to unexpected places during that journey, and despite the tragedy, gives us a satisfying ending.” —New York Daily News
“The Glass Ocean is filled with terrific period details, and the trio of writers clearly did a great deal of research to bring the reader right onto the massive ship. The mystery is masterfully plotted as well, and you will find yourself searching for clues to what is really happening on that ship before it is sunk. I highly recommend it.” —The Auburn (NY) Citizen
Sarah, May 2013
When I finished speaking to Diana Carr—yes, I understood how many months in arrears I was, I understood that Riverside Haven would do its best not to have to resort to eviction—I set my phone down next to the bowl of congealed macaroni and went to the hall closet. Opened the door and rose on my toes. Found the small wooden trunk and dragged it from the shelf. The smell of dust filled my head, dustiness and mustiness and old wood, and above it all a slight hint of Youth Dew, even though I had removed this chest from my mother’s apartment four years ago. I placed it carefully on the coffee table, squaring the edges, and sat on my knees and stared at the lid.
593 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, New York
I had opened this chest once before, when I was about ten or eleven. My mother found me in her closet, lifting out the contents, and that was the only time in my life she ever screamed at me. Slammed down the lid and sent me to my room. When she was calm again, she took me to the sofa and tucked me under her warm, soft arm. That was your great-grandmother’s chest, she said. With all your great-grandfather’s things in it. All they found on him when they pulled his body out of the water. The Cunard company sent it back to her in a parcel, and she wouldn’t even look at it. She had your grandmother pack everything into a chest and promise never to open it. She said it was his tomb. So you are never to open that chest again, do you hear me? Never again.
I’d obeyed my mother, because what else could I do? I knew the story of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather, how they left Ireland together in search of a new life, how my great-grandfather Patrick had worked as a steward for the Cunard Line while my great-grandmother Annie raised five children in a small upstairs apartment in Brooklyn, saving up to buy a house of their own.
But I also knew what lay in that chest. I’d seen it with my own eyes, before Mom slammed down the lid. And my curious brain never could let it go. Never could erase that knowledge from my head, or banish the questions those objects raised. Because, my God, what a story they told.
And I was just born that way. Mom said so herself.
So maybe Mom would forgive me for what I was about to do. Maybe she would shake her head and understand, because I was Sarah, her daughter, and I was born to wonder and to dig for answers. Maybe she and my grandmother and my great-grandmother would absolve me for breaking my word, because I was at the end of the road, nowhere else to go, and I wasn’t doing it for myself, not entirely. I was doing it for Mom. I was doing it for that invoice lying in the drawer of my bedside table. For the voice in my head that said, This is the story, the story that wants to find you. No other story.
I lifted the lid.
The hinges creaked. The smell of brine filled the air. Brine and wool and wood. I closed my eyes and breathed it in, and then I reached inside with two hands and pulled out the little bundle.
Just a few things. All that remained on his body when they pulled him from the sea, ninety-nine years ago. His white steward’s uniform, stained dark at the collar and the right arm, so stiff it crackled under my fingertips. An oilskin pouch, containing an envelope with Mr. Robert Langford, Stateroom B-38 typed on the back, and a series of numbers and letters written in black, fresh ink down the side.
A few coins, minted by the United States Treasury in the early years of the century.
A silver pocket watch, slightly tarnished at the seams.
And a first-class luncheon menu from RMS Lusitania, dated Friday, the sixth of May, 1915, on the back of which was scribbled the following message, the ink smeared with moisture and barely readable.
No more betrayals. Meet me B-deck prom starboard side.