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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

March 9, 2021

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"I'd discovered that Savannah couldn't be fully explained to those who hadn't visited it.  Photos, no matter how glorious, and movies, no matter how accurate couldn't convey the way Savannah felt - seductive and lazy, busy and slow, modern and ancient.  Savannah was a contradiction and a complicated melody that could only be known by walking through it, absorbing its every sensual detail." (loc 483)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Surviving Savannah
March 2021; Berkley; 978-1984803757
audio, ebook, print (432 pages); historical fiction
It was called "The Titanic of the South."  The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten—until the wreck was found, and now their story is finally being told.

I am a major fan of Patti Callahan and have read and enjoyed all of her novels.  This is absolutely her best novel yet and one of my favorite books of the year.  She took a subject that very few people knew about and did deep research to make the story come to life.  Be sure to read the Author's Notes at the end of the book about the research that the author did for this book and information about the real people that were part of the Pulaski story.

1838 - Lilly, her husband Adam, her nursemaid Priscilla and her infant daughter were traveling from Savannah to Baltimore to get away from the summer heat of Savannah.  Things were not right in their marriage and Lilly longed for a new life for her and her daughter where they could be safe far away from her husband's abuse.  When the Pulaski exploded and sank on the first and only night at sea, Lilly, Priscilla, and the baby had to fight for their lives as they faced unrelenting sun and thirst waiting for rescue that they didn't think would ever arrive.

Present Day - Everly is a museum curator who's been asked to create an exhibit for the Pulaski artifacts that had recently been discovered at the bottom of the ocean.  She has been teaching and is reluctant to go back into the museum because of her grief over the death of her best friend the year before.  She takes the job and starts working with the diver who discovered the shipwreck as well as an old friend at the museum.   As she works to learn more about the wreck and the people who were on the ship, she begins to feel better about her life but will she ever truly heal?

Many times when I read dual timeline stories, I am more interested in one of the stories and kind of skim through the other. In this book, both timelines were fantastic and both had an exceptional main female character - Lilly in1838 and Everly in present time.  Both of them are facing a struggle in their lives and need to make major changes to find happiness.  Do they both succeed????

I loved Surviving Savannah - the writing is exquisite.  I rarely underline in novels but did significant underlining in this book for phrases and descriptions that I want to remember.  The descriptions are so well done that I felt like I was visiting Savannah again and the descriptions of the survivors of the sinking waiting and hoping for rescue were the cause for tears and a few bitten-off fingernails.  My prediction is that this will be one of the must-read books of March 2021.  I read an e-copy but have ordered a hardcover copy so that I can put it on my 'favorite books' shelf in my office.  DON'T MISS SURVIVING SAVANNAH!!!!

Buy Surviving Savannah at Amazon

An illustration of the Steamship Pulaski disaster, an 1838 boiler explosion
(Charles Ellms, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. I saw this on another blog and it looks good. I know nothing about this event.