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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Surviving Savannah

ISBN: 1984803751

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: 03/09/2021

Format: Hardcover

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.

Check out Patti's Website for more Details about Surviving Savannah and how to order Signed Copies! Behind the Scenes


"New Southern Books We’re Eager To Read in 2021."

—Atlanta Journal

"Kick Off Spring with the 25 Best New Books of March 2021."


"Book Picks for Spring 2021."

—Deep South Magazine

"Top 20 Spring Book Picks"

—AARP Magazine

“Most Anticipated Spring 2021 Historical Fiction Books”

—Biblio Lifestyle

"Winter’s Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Books."


"Top Book Covers for Spring 2021"

—Parade Magazine

"Here's Your 2021 Spring Reading List: Page-Turners."

—Scoop Charlotte

"2021 Books to Look Forward to."

—Buzz Magzine

"2021 Women’s Fiction to Watch For."


"8 Highly anticipated books in March"

—Borneo Bulletin

"[G] ripping....While Lilly’s story is moving, Callahan’s portrait of Everly drives the story, bringing to life a little-known shipwreck in meticulous detail. Fans of Southern historicals should check out this engrossing, centuries-spanning tale. —Publishers Weekly

“Callahan (Becoming Mrs. Lewis) tells a harrowing tale of survival and courage, fate and chance, bringing the actual tragedy of the Pulaski to vivid life.”

―Library Journal

“The success of ‘Surviving Savannah’ can be found in Callahan’s ability to vividly bring to

life a fascinating, harrowing slice of history that should be as well-known as the Titanic,

especially for Southerners.”

—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Both Augusta and Lilly are women of their times, dependent on their family, especially the males, but their struggles at sea after the boiler explosion, and amid the fear and heavy loss, reveal courage and a resilience to survive that elevates them and brings on newfound strength.”

—Historical Novel Society

"An abundance of courage, selflessness, and amazing grace, demonstrating the best of humankind amidst the worst of times. 5 Stars. Highly recommend!"

—The Bluffton Sun

"SURVIVING SAVANNAH is told through a dual timeline, and Callahan smoothly uses the past to illuminate the present-day narrative and deftly and empathetically re-creates a harrowing disaster that too many have forgotten."

—The Augusta Chronicle

“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 The Book of Lost Friends

"Fiercely hopeful...Callahan’s expertly-drawn characters are forced to discover how to live past tragedy, and what matters most in the aftermath. This is exactly the kind of story we need right now."

--Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife

"[A] lush, meticulously researched deep-dive into the little-known story of a historic shipwreck....Surviving Savannah is a lyrical homage to this southern city and makes a real contribution to the historical record."

--Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of America’s First Daughter

“Through the interwoven tales of three courageous women, Surviving Savannah ​grips the reader in a spellbinding novel full of mystery, tragedy, sacrifice, and resilience....Superb.”

--Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of Sold on a Monday

"[S]pellbinding....Beautifully written with a masterfully crafted plot, Surviving Savannah leaves the reader breathless and marveling at the manner in which the past and present interweave in ways we almost cannot imagine."-

-Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room

“[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."

--Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names

“Riveting...a heartfelt exploration of the pain of survival amid incalculable loss, and a mesmerizing character study of three women...[A] memorable and profoundly moving novel that readers are destined to cherish.”

--Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of The Gown

“[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.”

--Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer

Q&A with Patti Callahan

An Elevator Ride

Q&A with Patti

How do we Survive the Surviving?

My Review

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.

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!

A special thank you to the author, #Berkley, and #Netgalley for an advanced reading copy. I also pre-ordered the hardcover and the audiobook.

Podcast - The Untold Story Behind SURVIVING SAVANNAH

About the Author

Patti Callahan

Photo Credit: Bud Johnson Photography Savannah, GA

Patti Callahan

New York Times Bestselling Author and Podcast Host

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of sixteen novels and podcast host. 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.

“With a belief that the power of story changes us and moves us, Patti’s historical fiction, SURVIVING SAVANNAH, WILD SWAN, and BECOMING MRS. LEWIS explores the untold stories of the past that affect us now.” (writing as Patti Callahan)

SURVIVING SAVANNAH, a new historical fiction, based on the true story of the Steamship Pulaski wreck, known as "The Titanic of the South" was released March 9, 2021. The new podcast series, "The Untold Story Behind Surviving Savannah" is an in-depth exploration into the fascinating stories explored in her novel, Surviving Savannah. The podcast series includes interviews with some of the foremost experts on the myth and lore of Savannah, shipwreck treasure hunting, the hidden stories in museums, and the astounding real-life family story that inspired the novel. Available now.

WILD SWAN, a novella following the fiery life of one of history’s greatest heroines and the mother of modern nursing: Florence Nightingale by Patti Callahan was released December 2020, as an Audible Original performed by the award-winning narrator, Cynthia Erivo.

BECOMING MRS. LEWIS—The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis was released in expanded edition, March 2020. The author is also the host of the popular seven-part original “Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series”—the podcast audiobook collection including bonus material was released in January 2020.

ONCE UPON A WARDROBE is another tenderly imagined and enchanting story that pulls back the curtain on the early life of C. S. Lewis from Callahan— coming October 19, 2021, and available for pre-order now—published by Harper Collins' new imprint —Harper Muse. Callahan's Once Upon a Wardrobe will be their debut novel launching this fall.

REUNION BEACH, Stories Inspired by Dorothea Benton Frank, a collaboration and tribute to be released April 27, 2021, and available for pre-order now. Patti joins a group of bestselling authors to present a moving anthology to pay tribute to the legendary NYT bestselling author and her literary legacy.

Patti Callahan is the co-host and co-creator of the popular weekly online Friends and Fiction live web show and podcast, featuring the five bestselling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Kristin Harmel, and Mary Alice Monroe. With endless stories and special guests, they are live every Wednesday at 7 pm ET on the Friends and Fiction Facebook group page, their YouTube Channel, and Parade Magazine Facebook page. You can follow them on Instagram and, for weekly updates, subscribe to their newsletter.

In a recent essay series partnership with Parade Magazine, each Wednesday viewers get a new “life lesson” from one of the FF writers on as well as a chance to discuss the themes later that evening on Facebook Live.

A full-time author and mother of three children, she now resides in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

Connect with Patti

Check out my Q&A with Patti (2018) Becoming Mrs. Lewis

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