The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen White

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, & Karen WhiteThe Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White
Narrator: Vanessa Johansson, Saskia Maarleveld, Brittany Pressley
Length: 13 Hours, 43 Minutes
Published by Harper Audio on September 4, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

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.

May 2013

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 ...

April 1915

Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter's marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, preoccupied 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.

At this point, I basically read every Beatriz Williams audiobook I can get my hands on. They’re reliably fun, though they often tend to the melodramatic. This marks my first experience with both Willig and White, though I’ve had the former on my to-read list probably since about 2005. The Glass Ocean, a fictionalized accounting of espionage aboard the Lusitania is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

The Glass Ocean consists of three POVs, presumably each written by one of the contributing authors, though I cannot say for certain as the audiobook did not include any kind of author’s note. In my head, their names appear on the cover in the order of their POVs, but that’s just a theory. It would be nice to know, though, so I could know which authors’ writing I enjoyed the most.

The first POV, and my favorite by a landslide, is from the contemporary timeline. Weird, right? Usually I’m not as interested in the contemporary timeline when historical novels do this, but this one’s super shippy so holla. Anyway, Sarah Blake is a historian and successful author of nonfiction. Well, she was successful anyway. Her first book, Small Potatoes, turned out to be a massive hit, but all of that money went to paying for her mother’s care, and she hasn’t managed to come up with a concept for a second book that her agent likes.

Obviously, it’s easy to relate to Sarah because she’s a struggling author. I’m sure that opening scene where Sarah attends a rich woman’s book club only to discover all of the women attending pirated her book is far too real for published authors. I wanted to slap those rich assholes so hard omg.

As you’d expect, Sarah ends up researching the Lusitania, after she opens up a box of her great-grandfather’s effects and finds some interesting documents from the Lusitania among them. These documents lead her to England and John Langford, a politician in the midst of a scandal, who she begs for access to his family archives where she might be able to uncover the truth of what happened on the Lusitania.

John and Sarah are super adorable. Like, I absolutely hate politicians, but he’s such a good guy, and all tall and goofy, and I really could not resist the shippiness. Their banter is so good that I can even mostly forgive the book’s one foray into needless melodrama towards the end of this plot line. The mystery is interesting, and I particularly enjoyed the resolution of her research.

The second POV is that of Caroline Hochstetter, a southern belle married to a wealthy industrialist, sailing with her husband on the Lusitania. Caroline’s marriage has been going downhill for a while, but she doesn’t know why and she’s hoping to fix things on the voyage, even though she desperately didn’t want to be on the voyage because of the danger.

Caroline’s POV was my favorite in terms of audiobook narration, though her actual character took a while to grow on me. I did feel for her from the beginning though, because her husband has her on this pedestal and basically still wants her to be a virgin princess. When they have sex, he APOLOGIZES to her afterwards, even though she was the one to initiate. It’s AWFUL. I wanted to set him on fire pretty much, and Caroline comes off as helpless and unaware for much of the book.

Caroline’s involved in a love triangle between her husband and an old friend, Robert Langford (John’s ancestor), and, though it should have been melodrama central, it surprisingly wasn’t. I was really impressed with the way this particular story line rolled out. View Spoiler »

The POV in which I was least invested was the third, Tessa Fairweather. In theory, she should be the most interesting of them all. She’s grown up working as a con artist, forging art and documents at the behest of her father and sister. Her trip on the Lusitania is her last job, before she’ll settle down to a new, straight life, in England. For all that, though, she felt like she had the least agency, spending the entirety of the book trying and failing to convince her sister to quit the life. When she’s not doing that, she’s pining over Robert. I didn’t hate her POV, but I think, with some editing, her POV could have been left out without much harm to the book.

I enjoy my historical fiction with a heavy helping of romance, so Beatriz Williams’ books work well for me. The Glass Ocean was no exception.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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