Book Review: The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abé

“It can be difficult sometimes for our families to accept us as people separate from who they are. As separate souls. When we’re young, we’re taught to behave as our parents do—to cherish what they cherish and believe what they believe. And for a while, that’s as it should be. But as adults, sometimes we have our own desires, our own hopes, that are at odds with how our parents view the world.”

Shana Abé, The Second Mrs. Astor

Title: The Second Mrs. Astor: A Heartbreaking Historical Novel of the Titanic
Author: Shana Abé
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance

My Rating: ★★★★
Read: 7/12/2022 – 7/17/2022


As someone who loves 20th Century history, I’ve read so little about the Titanic. This is possibly the first book I’ve read where the sinking was so heavily involved. It was a great place to start.

Shana Abé’s writing is beautiful. She captured Madeline’s voice wonderfully and I liked how the narration was set up with her addressing her son. It made the story feel so much more personal. It did take me a little while to get into it, but the book’s second half picks up nicely.

The Titanic wasn’t involved as much as I’d assumed and hoped. The focus is more on Madeleine and Jack’s relationship which leads up to them boarding the ship. From there, the story takes on a lot of emotions and tragedy. Though it was devastating reading through the shipwreck, this was my favorite part of the book and the slow beginning ended up adding so much to this portion of the story.

Likes & Dislikes

What I liked:

  • The writing. Most of the time I don’t like description-heavy stories, but it worked well here given how it was being narrated.
  • The emotions. They came through well.

What I didn’t like:

  • Jack and Madeline’s age difference. Usually, I’m all for an age gap but in this case, Madeline was too young. Granted, she is based on a real person, so there wasn’t any say in the matter.
  • The first part of the book dragged on compared to the second half. I mentioned above that the build up was ultimately worth it, however, the Titanic scenes went by too quickly especially where there was so much action.


On a more personal note, I loved the inclusion of Captain Rostron. Years ago one of my cousins uncovered that we have a relation to him through our grandfather. My grandmother confirmed it although I’ve not yet been able to connect the exact relation myself (reading this actually spurred me to get back to my family tree on Ancestry). Regardless, it was exciting to see he was part of the story.

Where to buy the book:

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