By the Light of the Silvery Moon
This review was created by the editorial staff at Thriving Family magazine
This Christian historical fiction book by Tricia Goyer is published by Barbour Publishing Inc., and written for ages 17 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Amelia Gladstone is excited about the new life she and Aunt Neda will soon begin in America. Mr. Chapman, a man with whom Amelia has been corresponding, is eager to meet her. He's so eager, in fact, that he purchased second-class passage for her, Aunt Neda and her cousin Henry on a glorious new ship called the Titanic. When Henry gets arrested the night before the voyage, Amelia finds herself with an extra ticket.
Amelia and Aunt Neda board the ship in wonder, hearing murmurs from other passengers about how the liner is supposedly unsinkable and indestructible. Amelia sees a raggedy man being thrown from the ship as he's sneaking on. Always eager to help the less fortunate, Amelia offers him her extra ticket.
The would-be stow away, a man named Quentin Walpole, hesitates but accepts Amelia's gracious gift. She has her cousin's clothing sent to this man's room so he will be suitably dressed. Once cleaned up and wearing Henry's things, he's still cautious and doesn't want to be noticed. He knows many of the people in first class because his father, C.J. Walpole, and brother, Damien, have done business with them. The last thing Quentin wants is to be recognized. Many of these people have heard rumors about what he's done, beginning with how he inadvertently caused his mother's drowning death as a child. They've heard how he demanded half of his father's estate and went off on his own, living richly and recklessly. Many don't know how far he's fallen, that he's been living on the streets after his business failed and the money dried up. Getting to America to start a new life is his only hope.
Amelia tours the ship, admiring the handiwork and watching the wealthy, prominent people board. From his position in first class, Damien Walpole notices her and admires her beauty. Amelia wonders if Mr. Chapman, a reliable banker, will be someone she can love. Being on a ship, she can't help thinking of her mother, Emma. Emma was a stewardess on ships for years. When Amelia was only 6, Emma felt the call of the sea again and left her daughter with Aunt Neda. Amelia hasn't seen her mother since.
As Amelia makes an effort to know Quentin, he's reluctant to let her near. Their attraction is clear from the start, but Quentin knows he isn't good for her. He's already hurt too many people who love him. She promises to help him not be noticed.
Amelia strolls up to the forbidden first-class deck to help a friend retrieve a book. There, she sees a man she believes to be Quentin and calls out his name. It turns out to be Damien. Standing nearby, C.J. Walpole begs her for information about his son. Does she know Quentin? Has she seen him recently? Is he OK? C.J. has long prayed for his wayward son to come home. Amelia wants to tell him his son is aboard the ship, but she's promised to keep his identity a secret.
Seeing an opportunity to get to know the beautiful woman he'd spotted earlier, Damien invites Amelia to dinner in first class. Amelia enjoys Damien's attention and the elegant surroundings of first class, though she feels out of place. She still wonders about Mr. Chapman. More than that, she thinks of Quentin. She wonders why he seems so resolved not to reunite with his family. Although Damien's attention grows, and he expresses interest in Amelia, she realizes he's too rooted in his social status for her comfort. He's always watching others to see what they're doing or thinking. Amelia explains this is why their relationship must not go any further. She returns to second class, where she begins spending more time with Quentin. Despite his misgivings, Quentin can't help falling for the sincere, caring woman he calls his angel of mercy. He offers full disclosure of his past, including what he's done to his father and his life of debauchery. Amelia tells him how Christ's love will cover all his sins. He prays for God's forgiveness.
The next day, a church service is held in first class. It is the one onboard event where all classes are invited to participate together. Amelia and her aunt, along with other worshipers, celebrate as C.J. sees Quentin, runs to him and holds him while they weep. Damien is unhappy with the turn of events. Not only does he fear Quentin will break their father's heart again, but he's also angry that his wayward brother has stolen the heart of the woman he wants. C.J. immediately orders the best stateroom and new clothes for his son. He says he will throw a party on the ship like no one has ever seen.
Amelia is proud of Quentin, knowing it took courage for him to reveal himself. On the deck, she and Quentin talk about what will happen when they reach New York. It's chilly outside, and the ship seems to be slowing after scraping against an iceberg. Initially, no one is alarmed since the ship is unsinkable and has many safeguards in place. But chaos soon ensues, and passengers are ordered to the decks to put on lifejackets. Quentin and Damien both help third-class passengers escape while trying to ensure their father is safe. C.J. ends up on a lifeboat with Amelia and Aunt Neda. But as they watch the Titanic sink into the dark waters behind them, they believe all hope is lost of seeing the brothers again.
Before the boat goes down, while there are still lifeboats to be had, Damien stabs Quentin and beats him unconscious. What appears to be an act of sheer rage turns out to be one of mercy and love for C.J. Walpole. Because Quentin is wounded, Damien is able to place him on a lifeboat meant only for women and children. Damien goes down with the ship, singing his favorite hymn. In New York, Amelia discovers that Quentin is alive and Mr. Chapman has already fallen for his cook. Quentin and Amelia respectfully remember Damien and his sacrifice as they plan their future together.
Amelia prays that her heart will be open to whatever God has in mind for her on this voyage and in her new life. Amelia feels God's peace and presence as she prays for Quentin. She imagines He has a purpose for the man. Later, she prays Quentin will stop running and trust his father's love. She's eventually able to tell Quentin she believes it was God's plan, rather than an accident, that brought them together. She urges him to see himself as God sees him and recognize all he can be. She assures him that, because of Christ's sacrifice, God doesn't see one person's sin as greater than another's. She tells Quentin he can ask Jesus to forgive him, and he does. He thanks Amelia and feels an almost immediate change inside. Amelia continues to pray God will ease Quentin's emotional pain. She tells him the hardest part is accepting grace that he doesn't deserve, from God and his father. The more she prays throughout the story, the more Amelia realizes how powerful prayer is and the more she wants to pray. Sitting in a lifeboat watching the Titanic sink, Amelia wonders where God is.
C.J. allows God's strength to carry him through the pain of his son's abandonment. He tries to trust God, knowing God sees and loves Quentin. He thanks God when Amelia tells him Quentin is safe. Several times, he hears God telling him, "Give your sons to Me." C.J. gives kind, candid advice to John Jacob Astor about seeking God's forgiveness. After Quentin and his father are reunited, C.J. tells his son that God can take the broken parts of him and turn them into a beautiful mosaic.
When Amelia wonders if she's betraying Mr. Chapman by having dinner with Damien, Aunt Neda urges her to give God a chance to guide her heart. Later, Amelia asks Aunt Neda to pray for God to show her the right man. Aunt Neda says she's already been praying that for years. As they sit in the lifeboats hoping for help, Aunt Neda reminds Amelia of Job's words blessing the Lord whether He gives or takes away.
Quentin helps the people in third class escape the sinking ship. He realizes it's the least he can do after all God has done for him. Before Amelia boards a lifeboat, he tells her God used her. He thanks her for helping him find his way to God and back to his father.
As he prepares to go down with the ship, Damien prays that Quentin, with Amelia's help, will care for C.J. The narrator says the greatest thing C.J. passed down to his son was his belief in God. Damien never lost his belief in God, which was his inheritance.
Passengers pray before eating. Amelia's cousin in America says Mr. Chapman is respected in their church. Amelia's shipboard friend believes God has a special man for Amelia. Several times as she observes the lavish surroundings and rich people on the Titanic, Amelia reminds herself that true treasure is not found in the accumulation of wealth.
Other Belief Systems
A passenger jests that the Titanic is so impressive that God himself can't sink it. Quentin smirks at the comment, thinking that his own boasting directed at God hadn't taken him very far. A few passengers, including Quentin, talk about being lucky enough to get on the Titanic. One of the Titanic stewards mentions visiting a fortuneteller, who predicted a sinking ship surrounded by drowning people.
Damien and Quentin brawl in the ship's hallway. Later, as the ship is sinking, Damien stabs Quentin with a knife and knocks him unconscious. None of the violence is graphic. Someone uses God's name in the sentence: "For ___'s sake, be a man!" to a male who tries to sneak on a lifeboat ahead of women. A few people say "Oh" with God's name as the ship is sinking.
Emma gave birth to Amelia out of wedlock. When Damien kisses Amelia, she scolds him. She says she only wants to be kissed by the man she will marry. Damien has kissed Dorthea, a wealthy woman who thinks they're an ideal match. He kisses her again on the ship in an effort to stop thinking about Amelia. Quentin is more cautious with Amelia in light of her innocence. He kisses her on her head several times.
Quentin admits to having slept with many women during his time of riotous living. A woman from his past, whom he meets onboard, offers herself to him for the night. It takes willpower for him to resist her, but he refuses when he ponders what Amelia would think of him.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What is the significance of wealth and social standing in this story?
- Which characters use their talents, resources and influence wisely?
- What are the results of their decisions?
- Which characters don't use their money wisely?
- What are the consequences of their actions?
- In the end, how does money or status help the passengers on the Titanic?
In what ways do wealth and social prestige impact your world, school or town today
If you were Damien, how would you have responded to the reappearance of your brother?
- What surprised you about Damien's character?
What does the author say was Damien's true inheritance?
What might have happened if Amelia or C.J. had forced themselves or their faith on Quentin?
- How did they approach him instead?
- Why is it important to approach people with acceptance rather than an agenda?
- How can you kindly and effectively approach someone who is lost with the message of Christ's love and forgiveness?
Alcohol/tobacco: Some passengers drink brandy and smoke cigars or cigarettes. Quentin did a lot of partying and drinking after he left home with his father's money. When Damien confronts Quentin on the ship, Damien's swagger indicates he's had several drinks.
Lying: Quentin initially lies about his identity so his family won't find him.
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Readability Age Range
17 and up
Barbour Publishing Inc