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  • Writer's picturePatti Callahan Henry

Publishers Weekly Review: Surviving Savannah

We hold our breaths for the PW review (Publishers Weekly). What will they say? We want to look. We don't want to look. But this blew through my door like a wild fresh wind about Surviving Savannah. #publishersweekly #patticallahan #survivingsavannah #historicafiction

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

"In the gripping latest from Callahan (Becoming Mrs. Lewis), a professor uncovers the history of a steamship disaster that has intrigued her for years, as well as that of a woman who was said to have died in the disaster. Everly Winthrop grew up on stories of the 1838 sinking of the Pulaski, a luxury steamship that went down off the coast of North Carolina, killing 128 people. Among the dead was believed to be a woman named Lilly Forsyth, about whom Everly’s grandfather told fabulous tales. Everly, now a professor of history, jumps at the chance to curate an exhibit featuring recently found remnants of the Pulaski. As she prepares for the exhibition, the story switches between 1838 and the present day as Everly uses artifacts from the shipwreck to track down records of a woman who survived and, as Everly learns, seized the opportunity to leave behind her abusive husband and take a new identity. In the 1838 timeline, Lilly reluctantly boards the Pulaski with 11 members of her extended family, escapes on a lifeboat, and grapples with the pressure of returning to her aristocratic life. 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 historical should check out this engrossing, centuries-spanning tale." (Mar.)

Surviving Savannah

Patti Callahan


$26 (432p)

ISBN 978-1-984803-75-7

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.


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Dec 21, 2022
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