Richard M. Jones, RMS Titanic: The Bridlington Connections. Bridlington: Lodge Books, 2019. $9.17USD. Paperback, 108 pgs. ISBN: 9780244187538.
By Dr. Aditi Paul
The stir caused by the numerous publications on shipwrecks with their prime attachment to the most celebrated ship, Titanic, does not seem to come to an end and continues to entice the lovers of Titanic to date. In the quest to plumb other aspects of Titanic that did not come to the surface when the much loved and appreciated James Cameron movie was released in 1997, the concise and neat book titled RMS Titanic: The Bridlington Connections has a few exciting pages that capture the attention of readers. With its opening lines “To those who keep the memory of the Titanic alive”, Jones does know how to tickle the emotions of those who have kept Titanic immortalized ever since its sinking into the ice-cold Atlantic sea on the night of 14 April 1912.
Lots of facts thrown into the mix with the intention to turn the book into a well-researched piece as well as develop the otherwise short list of “connections” to Bridlington, the most captivating section is chapter 2 – Wallace Hartley and the Violin. With the limited knowledge that I carried on the bandmaster of Titanic, Jones weaved a beautiful and satisfying tale of not just Wallace’s happenstance on Titanic but also his fiancé and the mysterious violin that managed to secure a place at the Belfast City Hall after being declared “lost”. The same could have been said about chapter 3 – The Sinking of HMS Falcon – but the story about Charles Herbert Lightoller was more focused on the voyages and shipwrecks that were beyond Titanic.
Other than that, the author makes an unsuccessful endeavor with the chapter on media coverage on the Titanic‘s loss, which completely fails to garner curiosity, especially when all the news clippings (including the actual pictures) repeat the same piece of information (or “rumors” regarding the disaster as elucidated by Jones). For someone who is leisure-reading, and not considering data assessment and fact-checking of all the dates, names and places, chapter 4 has been most dull. Moreover, the chapter brought to the forefront the author’s unnecessary scampering of connections of Bridlington to Titanic, which frankly lack weightage in terms of interesting nuggets of narratives relating to the ship. Similar is the case with chapter 5 – Bridlington’s Titanic Enthusiasts. While it made for a somewhat enjoyable read, listing out the names of random natives of Bridlington (including the author himself) and narrating their love for all-things Titanic, as revealed by the amount of books they collected or artifacts/paintings they purchased, does not account “Bridlington connections”. It rather reflects the author’s feeble attempt at expanding the book.
Nevertheless, the sepia tone and the black and white photographs of the actual people on board Titanic and others related to them, along with the images of artifacts, paintings, gravestones, etc. corresponding to the topic of each chapter, does transform the book into a delicious reading experience.