My Book Recommendation


The sensational true saga of the “waifs of the Titanic” is unevenly fictionalized in Imrie’s sixth novel.

This is a reconstruction, based on exhaustive mining of musty records more than a century old, of how two French toddlers, a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, wound up on a Titanic lifeboat. An afterword by writer Fidelis Morgan, Imrie’s researcher and fellow actress, reveals that this painstaking investigation also removes blame from the little boys’ mother, Marcella Navratil, where history had assigned it, and places it squarely on the shoulders of their father, couturier Michael Navratil. Fleeing divorce, a custody battle, and bankruptcy in Nice, with more than 30,000 embezzled francs, Michael kidnaps the boys and, impersonating a business associate, boards the RMS Titanic, where his fateful comeuppance awaits. The first half of the book chronicles the travails of Marcella, a naïve Niçoise seamstress, who, at 17, falls under Michael’s sway and marries him. A brief honeymoon period progresses to spousal abuse after the births of their two sons. Marcella files for divorce, a daring move for a woman in 1911. Much of the research described in Morgan’s afterword is shoehorned into the fictional treatment, where it distracts from the dramatic arc. For example, the fact that Michael was abetted in the couple’s hasty and secret London marriage by Paul Kühne, whose restaurant also figured in a scandalous attempted murder/suicide, is an intriguing real-life coincidence with no relevance to the action here, yet Imrie belabors this nonexistent connection. Similarly, Michael’s American friends the Kirchmanns may have taken his side in the domestic dispute, but attempts to concoct a more sinister motive for their antagonism toward Marcella unduly expand their peripheral role. After a padded and digressive first half, the most gripping portion of the book belongs not to Marcella but to plucky New Yorker Margaret Bechstein Hays, the focus of the story’s second half, along with the always riveting Titanic disaster.

A nonfictional treatment might have better served this story.

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 978-1-63557-788-4

  • Great Circle: A novel Great Circle: A novel This is a story a woman’s unenthusiastic life as she strives to break free. Marian Graves is also from a family which has lost their fame. Instead of bitterness, Marian continues to dream for the future and works hard for her stars. Although her life is not easy, she refuses to let the circumstances of her past dictate the fate of her future. This is an American story about independence, shedding your past,Read More
  • Klara and the Sun: A novel The book Klara and the Sun is an emotional story about loss and love. A peculiar girl, Klara who always insists that someone else is always inside of her body finally comes face to face with her real self. It is a masterpiece is that still contemplative and thoughtful as you are being drawn in by the essence of that “someone else.”Read More
  • The Four Winds: A Novel The Four Winds: A Novel by Kristen Hannah is a charming yet gritty story of women who remember America's iconic dust storms and have been trying to survive since the nation asks them to. This book is a touching story of survival, resilience, and hope.Read More

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

You May Also Like