By: Patti Callahan
Publication Date: 03/09/2021
My Rating: 5 Stars +++
Top Books of 2021
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 in this breathtaking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she's shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can't resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.
Everly's research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaski together, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child.
These aristocratic women were part of Savannah's society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.
Here it is! I am so excited to share the cover for Surviving Savannah by New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan, on sale March 9, 2021.
It’s inspired by the true and forgotten story of the sinking of the Pulaski, known as the “Titanic of the South.”
#survivingsavannah #patticallahan #historicalfiction @pattichenry @berkleypub #jdcmustreadbooks @judithdcollins Pre-order it here. Add to Goodreads
"Patti Callahan masterfully weaves a little known historical tragedy, an enigmatic mystery and a searing family saga into a mesmerizing tale that will captivate readers until the last page and beyond."
—-Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
"The astonishing story of the 'Titanic of the South' is brought to vivid life by Callahan, who effortlessly blends fact and fiction into a novel that I simply couldn’t put down.
This tale of survival, love, and loss, as well as Callahan’s epic portrayals of a trio of strong, passionate women, gripped me from the very first page. Simply masterful."
—-Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
“Fans of Christina Baker Kline and Kate Quinn will love this beautiful, richly detailed novel about a lost bit of American maritime history. In a seamless blending of fact and fiction, Patti Callahan has created an atmospheric, compelling story of survival, tragedy, the enduring power of myth and memory, and the moments that change one's life."
—Kristin Hannah #1 NYT Bestselling Author of The Great Alone & The Nightingale
Hidden history rises from the watery depths in all its glittering glory but also in its intimate, human detail. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, underpinned by timeless themes of personal trauma and its aftereffects, Surviving Savannah is a journey readers and book clubs will treasure.”
—Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Before We Were Yours and
The Book of Lost Friends
“In this lush, vibrant novel by the indomitable Patti Callahan, one can feel with incredible vibrancy the raw terror aboard a sinking steamship in the darkness, the searing pain of loss, the modern-day mystery of a ghost ship unearthed in the ocean’s depth. Callahan splashes every scene with rich life, delivering the reader straight to the heart of the story, which is a rich tale of friendship, heritage, forgiveness, redemption, and the thin, too-fragile line between life and death. “How will we survive the surviving?” one of her characters wonders, and it is a question that Callahan mines beautifully. If you’re fascinated by the Titanic, meet your new favorite novel, a lush, vibrant based-on-a-true-story tale that toggles effortlessly between present and past, as a doomed ship sets out to sea, forever changing the fate of the mysterious, moss-draped city of Savannah.”
—Kristin Harmel, NYT Bestselling Author of The Book of Lost Names
Q&A with Patti coming
Q&A with New York Times Bestselling Author Patti Callahan SURVIVING SAVANNAH
What inspired you to write Surviving Savannah?
Patti: "Originally I was inspired by the Pulaski tales of survival, how the city of Savannah was part of this story, and how the Lowcountry was affected by this tragedy. I was also inspired and curious about the transformation of each passenger and the ways that each survivor not only lived through the explosion, but also how they chose to live their lives after the sinking.
How, I wondered, do some come to live better lives and others turn toward bitterness and cruelty? Who do we become after such great loss?
AND then!, everything shifted because after a hundred and eighty years, along came a shipwreck hunting crew who found the remains of the Pulaski a hundred feet beneath the waves, thirty miles off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. While the team went deep to bring up the artifacts and treasure of this beautiful ship, I dug deep to bring up the stories. My exhilarating hunt for the forgotten story began."
What kind of research was required to write the novel? Did anything surprise you?
Patti: "The research was as fascinating as it was extensive – from the archives at the Georgia Historical Center in Savannah and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum to books, newspaper archives, personal accounts and letters, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I devoured books on steamships and Savannah in the 1800’s. I read about the rich history of the colonization of Savannah with General Oglethorpe. I walked the streets of Savannah and visited museums and artifact collections. I interviewed shipwreck experts and became enchanted with the world of wreck salvaging and treasure hunting.
During this journey, I was surprised over and over, but one surprise that opens the novel is the true narrative about a fifteen-year-old passenger named Charles who survived the sinking to become a slave trader with a horrific reputation. As he grew into a man, he earned the nickname “the Red Devil”. How had this young boy survived to become so cruel? I wanted to know.
Finally, after years of research, I put together a complete story of that calamitous night, and one family in particular."
Your story follows three women – Lily and Augusta on the ship in 1838, and Everly in present day. Which of the three women did you relate to the most and why?
Patti: "While I was writing each section I always felt the most connected to the woman I was writing about at the moment. I don’t think I felt more for one woman than another but of course our modern-day character, Everly felt more relatable only because I know today’s Savannah and I know today’s southern norms and ideas. The historical narratives were almost two hundred years old, and yet I still felt as close to Lilly and Augusta because their plight and their desires and their inner lives feel familiar. As far as women have come in their roles in society, there is still the struggle for independence and agency. There remains the need to burst through familial and collective norms to build a life of one’s own.
All three women had their own tragedies, hardships and losses to navigate. All three needed to discover how they would make meaning and purpose out of their situation. All three found out what they were truly made of and if they wanted to merely survive or if they wanted to thrive and build new lives."
Exquisite! Ten Stars and Best Historical Fiction of 2021. Movie-worthy.
I finished SURVIVING SAVANNAH in two sittings and speechless! EXTRAORDINARY!! Hands down, the BEST historical fiction I have ever had the opportunity to read!
I knew NYT bestselling author, Patti Callahan was a master storyteller but this one is her best and a true gem. The best-kept hidden secret. I have had the opportunity of reading all her books. She was truly meant to tell this mesmerizing story, inspired by true events.
The Pulaski, known as the "Titanic of the South" included Savannah's society, a wealthy family of eleven and some servants, boarded to leave the heat of the South for Maryland. Some with many secrets and shame. The ship was not equipped for a boiler explosion in 1838. How would they survive?
Now, 180 years later the wreckage was discovered off the coast of Wilmington, NC. Now Savannah's history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski remains.
However, Everly has experienced a loss of her own and still grieving. She is obsessed with the lives of those who lost their lives and somehow feels she must seek the answers in order to survive herself. Her answers may be closer than she could have imagined.
From past to present, SURVIVING SAVANNAH is elegantly written, lyrical, emotional, meticulously researched, and a perfect blending of fact and fiction. Rich in detail, character, and history —a captivating tale, intricately woven of survival, love, and loss with three courageous women you will root for.
"How will we survive the surviving?" What happens when tragedy occurs and your loved one is lost? Gone forever. There are no do-overs. How will you, the "survivor" lead your life? How will you go on? Will it change you in a positive or negative way? The author explores eloquently, different outcomes from the tragedies.
If you LOVE strong women (both past and present), you will devour this one. Callahan flawlessly captures the essence of her characters as though you experienced every step of their journey firsthand.
Some highly-charged topics of class, privilege, greed, abuse, and racial injustice —ripped from today's headlines.
Behind the Book with Patti —Interview above.
I fell in LOVE with characters: Augusta, Lily, Priscilla, (especially Everly), Oliver, Henry, and Maddox. Timely, absolutely stunning, and thought-provoking.
Normally with historical fiction, I am drawn more to the past story vs. the present; however, her dual timelines are equally as compelling! If you are a fan of historical Savannah, the author offers a wealth of information for additional reading. Ideal for book clubs and further discussions.
In SURVIVING SAVANNAH, Patti Callahan has woven a sweeping, captivating tale; of a contemporary woman lost in a fog of grief who finds solace-- and finally, redemption as she uncovers the long-buried secrets of a nearly forgotten shipwreck—and the courageous women who survived to bear witness to history. Based in fact, steeped in heart-breaking detail, SURVIVING SAVANNAH raises the little-known, 180-year-old story of the Southern Titanic to the forefront of American historical fiction.
There is so much to tell and could go on and on. Get this one on your pre-order list now. It is like nothing you will ever read. A true masterpiece. Highly recommend!
Stay Tuned for Interview: Patti will be the featured author in my upcoming March 2021 Elevator Ride with the Author Series. I cannot wait for the interview to learn more. More coming.
A special thank you to the author, #Berkley, and #Netgalley for an advanced reading copy. I also pre-ordered the hardcover and the audiobook.
PS. If you have not read Patti's Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis or her PODCAST Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis: check it out. Another great historical fiction by the master storyteller. View my Interview HERE with Patti | Becoming Mrs. Lewis
About the Author
A New York Times Bestselling Author
Podcast Host and Co-creator of
Friends & Fiction
Photo Credit: Bud Johnson Photography
Patti Callahan is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of fifteen novels, including the (Historical Fiction), BECOMING MRS. LEWIS—The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis (writing as Patti Callahan). In addition, she is the recipient of The Christy Award—A 2019 Winner "Book of the Year.” ; The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019.
The author is also the host of the popular seven-part original "Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series" launched, October 2019. The podcast audiobook collection including bonus material was released in January 2020. The new expanded Becoming Mrs. Lewis paperback edition was released in March 2020.
On March 9, 2021, SURVIVING SAVANNAH —a new historical fiction novel based on the true story of the Steamship Pulaski wreck will be released and available for pre-order now.
THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER (writing as Patti Callahan Henry—Southern Contemporary Fiction) was launched in 2019, and THE PERFECT LOVE SONG—A Christmas Holiday novella.
Patti Callahan is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly Friends and Fiction Facebook Live Show and podcast, featuring the five bestselling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Kristin Harmel, and Mary Alice Monroe with endless stories, special guests, and a way to connect readers and writers.
A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband. Read More