In her debut, novelist Gynther scores with this first-rate story centering on three women whose lives intersect aboard an ocean liner.
World War I has recently ended, and the French-based luxury liner, the Paris, is setting out on its maiden voyage to England and the United States. Three women climbing aboard the ship before departure are photographed together for the ship’s newspaper, and as the five-day crossing progresses, their lives continue to overlap in unexpected ways. Julie, a young French girl whose four brothers died in the war, shattering her family, has taken a job aboard the ship. Excited at the prospect of leaving home for the first time, she reports from her position waiting tables and her life below deck in steerage. Second-class passenger Constance Stone is returning home to Massachusetts following a failed attempt to persuade her younger sister to come with her and try to talk their mentally deranged mother back to sanity; while elderly, ailing first-class passenger Vera Sinclair has given up her privileged life in Paris to return home to New York in order to wait for the inevitable. Julie and Constance both find romance they did not expect, and for Vera, there is also a discovery that changes everything she believes about herself. In the meantime, the three women keep crossing paths on the ship, not realizing how much they really have in common. Gynther does an excellent job of taking readers back to an Atlantic crossing in the early 1920s, when the U.S. was caught up in Prohibition and women were starting to question their roles in society. The ship’s details, the different levels of service and luxury experienced by the passengers and crew, as well as the twists and turns of the passage, prove engrossing in Gynther’s hands.
Gynther proves herself a fine storyteller with this artful tale.