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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh

I loved each of the story's two timelines--following a stewardess on board The Titanic as well as a British spy working with the WWII French Resistance--and the details of life in each time, but I found the ending's resolutions too easy.

First, just look at this gorgeous cover! I love this so much.

Unsinkable is historical fiction by Jenni L. Walsh that's set in two timelines.

The book's past timeline is set in the early 20th century, as Violet, a young ship's stewardess bent on providing for her family after her father's death and mother's onset of illness, works aboard ships including, as the story sweeps along, The Titanic. I love a ship-life story, and I was taken with the details of Violet's caring for the elite passengers.

The story's later timeline takes place in the time of World War II as Daphne, an intelligent and educated young woman who is emotionally closed off and desperately trying to impress her estranged, famous father, serves as a spy assisting the French Resistance.

Sometimes in a dual-timeline story I feel far more invested in one story or the other. But while reading Unsinkable, I was equally interested in both timelines. I really enjoyed Violet's life on the ship and her foray into nursing, as well as Daphne's spy activity.

The book is almost at its close by the time the two main protagonists are explicitly linked within the story, although the reader will know of their bond before the women themselves do.

For me, this was a four-star read with a three-star ending. Throughout Unsinkable, Daphne and Violet fought through unimaginable difficulties, focused on their duties at the expense of their romantic happiness, witnessed various horrors, and yet recognized and cultivated an unlikely spark of hope for themselves and their futures that felt hard-won and intriguing.

The final scenes felt oddly clean and neatly wrapped up with a bow as though according to a formulaic "happy ending" equation, and I found this shift from the appealingly messy, imperfect, wonderful, adventurous, tragic lives shown in the bulk of the book to a smooth, no-loose-ends set of outlandish coincidences and resolutions jarring rather than wholly satisfying.

The Author's Note explains that the character of Violet and the arc of her life is somewhat loosely based upon a real person, while Daphne is an amalgamation of various special operations figures.

I listened to Unsinkable as an audiobook, narrated by Barrie Kreinik and Alana Kerr Collins, courtesy of and Harper Muse.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Walsh is also the author of Becoming Bonnie, Side by Side, A Betting Woman, and The Call of the Wrens.

You might like my Bossy reviews of other spy stories; you can find them here.

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