Imagine, it’s 1838 in Savannah, Georgia, and you are boarding a beautiful steamship, the Pulaski, with the social elite. Your trunks are packed and you are ready to make the journey north for the summer season. Flash forward to later that night...you hear a crash and screams throughout the steamship. The ship is sinking and there aren’t enough lifeboats. As those around you struggle to make it out alive, you find a way to survive. Flash forward to the modern-day, a historian is trying to decipher what happened to these poor souls aboard the steamship. She pieces back together with her lives as well as her own torn to pieces after her friend was killed. This Is Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan.
I’ve had this book on my “to be read” list for a solid year since I hear Patti Callahan was writing this story. I love picking up historical fiction books about pieces of history I have never read before. This one told the story of the Pulaski, a steamship that sank in the 1830s taking with it hundreds of lives and treasures. Dubbed the ”Titanic of the South” by historians today, this story goes through how the fictional historian - Everly Winthrop - discovers treasures buried deep and how it has a special connection to someone dear she lost in the previous year. It also tells the story of two women who survived the tragedy of the Pulaski - Augusta Longstreet and Lily Forsyth. Their stories not only tell of their families’ livelihood but also so much history and struggles of the times they lived in.
Surviving Savannah was a gold mine for everything I love in historical fiction. A spellbinding storyline, beautiful imagery, a mysterious historical puzzle, and a resolution that leaves you feeling fulfilled. I fell in love with Everly Winthrop and her background as a history professor. This book made me want to get in the car and drive down to Savannah, Georgia, just so I could take a tour to see the architecture. The imagery of the streets, the old houses, and the stories of past lives mesmerized me to a point that I was completely a part of the story myself.
All in all, I highly recommend this book if you are looking for a story that reads like the Titanic but leaves you wanting to research more about the Pulaski and the people who survived. Patti Callahan does it again for me, and I cannot wait to read her newest book coming out that has a connection to my beloved Narnia!
For other books like this, check out The Nightingale By Kristin Hannah, Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, and This Tender Land by William Kent Kruger.