Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No Moon by Irene N. Watts

Title: No Moon
Author: Irene N. Watts
ISBN: 9780887769719, Tundra Books, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Rating: A
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer program

First Line: The night before the picnic, Kathleen and I stayed awake long after Johnny had been brought to his room and settled in his crib.

In 1902 when Louisa Gardener was five, her parents took her, her older sister and two-year-old brother on a rare holiday to the seaside. Little brother Johnny was tragically drowned, and since that time, Louisa has wanted nothing to do with the ocean.

A few years pass, and older sister Kathleen is in service, working outside the home to bring in badly needed money. Even though she longs to have a job like Kathleen, her mother needs her to stay at home to help with cooking, cleaning, and caring for her younger brothers and sisters. Finally Louisa gets her chance, becoming a nursemaid to a wealthy London family. Even though she's bullied unmercifully by Nanny Mackintosh, Louisa loves her work, and she loves the children for whom she cares.

Everything is all right until the fourteen-year-old learns that the family has booked passage on the Titanic. Is Louisa going to be able to overcome her nightmares and fear of the sea to go with her employers, or will she stay home, lose her place and any chance of rising above her working class life?

I've been a bit of a Titanic buff for years, so I was very happy to be sent this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. The narrative moves quickly-- everything seen through the eyes of young Louisa. She chafes at being made to stay home with the endless cleaning and cooking, just like any other young girl would, but she doesn't complain all that much. She's working-class, and she knows that the only way she'll ever rise above is by hard work.

When she moves on to work as nursemaid to a wealthy London family, she lets us see the differences between her own home and a home of a privileged family. Her quiet struggles with Nanny Mackintosh really made me cheer Louisa on because it showed that the girl truly did have the gift of raising children.

Throughout the book, Louisa was full of practicality and common sense without ever seeming like an adult in disguise, but her story really came to life at the end. It was a pleasure to watch Louisa make each choice that would effect her life. It was a pleasure to inhabit her world for a little while. I would be very pleased indeed if Watts shared more chapters of Louisa's adventures.


  1. This one is totally new to me and I am also often attracted to Titanic books (and movies). I'll put it on my radar.

  2. This book sounds wonderful! I'm fascinated with Titanic stories as well.

  3. The story is compelling to me - up to the Titanic part. I don't share your passion for that event. However, I like the rest of it, how she struggles to pull herself up and so on.

  4. Sounds like a good YA story, I'll have to add it to my wish list.

  5. I've never read any Titanic books -- any previous ones you enjoyed? (queen bee)

  6. Beth-- The young girl's "voice" is so authentic that I really enjoyed it.

    Kathy-- It's good to see that I'm not the only one who's interested in the Titanic!

    Margot JR-- The Titanic section is very well done and may not bother you.

    Kris-- It is good YA...and available for purchase on the anniversary of the Titanic's sinking.

    Kim-- I think this is the first fictional work concerning the Titanic that I've read. (Or at least remember reading.) All the rest have been non-fiction, and at least one of them is a survivor's account. I'll have to look up the titles.

  7. Cathy,

    It never occurred to me that No Moon would be available on the anniversary of the Titanic sinking! How clever.

    I really enjoyed reading about Louisa - I thought she was a very convincing teen with a real gift for raising children. I loved how practical yet affectionate she was.

    I was a bit disappointed with the Titanic section, though. I found the narrative rather detached at that point, which was quite at odds with the rest of the story.

    But I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I certainly agree that I would love to see more chapters of Louisa's life!

    I've linked to your review, which I really enjoyed, here.

  8. Lana-- I'm glad that you enjoyed this book, too, and thanks for the link love!

  9. This book is the best. I only read mysteries but this is way better!


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