Author Ann Victoria Roberts was shown the Southampton dockmaster’s log entry showing how Master Mariner E.J. Smith arrived from New York as captain on the Olympic one day and only a couple of days later arrived again but this time as captain of the brand new Titanic. He then left once more for New York on the new “unsinkable” ship. The proximity of those dates in April 1912 whetted her appetite to learn more about this man which subsequently resulted in her writing a short story. Readers of that story encouraged her to conduct even more research and to write this historical novel.
Like her previous books, Louisa Elliott and Liam’s Story, Ann Victoria Roberts uses her impressive writing skills to weave a superb story around true events. The reader is left wondering just who is real and who is part of the fictional tale. Indeed, the author herself admits in the book’s Afterword that for her, too, the fictional characters are just as much alive as the real ones.
Using the backdrop of the five days between the Titanic’s departure from Southampton and the fatal collision with an Atlantic iceberg the author transports us back to the boyhood of Edward Smith when he longed to emulate his older brother, Joe, through his career on sailing ships around the world up to his graduation to steam ships then into his role as captain of large White Star ocean liners. Apart from his romance with the sea, Smith’s personal romances are also part of this gripping tale. The Master’s Tale is so real that it might almost be described as a biography of the Master of the Titanic. It is so well written that one is left wondering just how much is true and how much is a result of the author’s fertile imagination.