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She Wore Only White Paperback – April 10, 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars 804 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for She Wore Only White

"Anyone who loved Titanic will relish this book." – Bücher.de, Germany

"This book takes us on a wonderful journey of life transition—along with the liberating power of love." –Linzer Magazin, Austria

"The portrait of a bygone time: scandalous, melancholy, romantic. A wonderful 'first.' " --Frankfurter Stadtkurier, Germany

"Based on a true story, this tale of love and family with Titanic-like flair gives readers a glimpse of bygone conventions and the escape from them." --Nordwest Zeitung, Germany

About the Author

Dörthe Binkert was born in Hagen, Germany. She studied literature, art history, and politics and earned a PhD in literature. For thirty years she was an editor and editor-in-chief for several major German publishing houses. After writing nonfiction books for years, she published her first novel, Weit übers Meer (published in English as She Wore Only White), in 2008, inspired by an intriguing historical news article. She has a son, and she currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland, where she writes fiction and nonfiction and works as a freelance journalist.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612182917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612182919
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (804 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #369,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Misfit VINE VOICE on March 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Antwerp, 1904. The SS Kroonland is preparing to sail for Ellis Island when a woman clad in a white ball gown and diamond earrings arrives at the gangplank and walks on board. She has no money, no luggage, no identification and no ticket. What events could drive a woman to just walk away from a comfortable life with nothing but the clothes on her back? And what of her fellow passengers on the SS Kroonland? Might they have a ghost or two in their own past lives that need to be exorcised?

That's pretty much all you need to know, this is one of those get a bunch of strangers into a room together and watch all the layers of their past lives slowly peel away, forever changing them and sending them into new, uncharted territory. The author based her story on a real woman in white who stowed away on the SS Kroonland, but her characters are completely fictional. There are a lot of POV switches and flashbacks, and while I thought they worked well in this story, I suspect some readers might be driven to distraction by them. I'd also have liked to see more character development and emotional connections, but despite those quibbles it was a satisfying read overall. 3.5/5 stars.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I liked this story, with reservations. The premise is intriguing. It's actually based on a true story. About 100 years ago, a woman stepped onto a ship set to sail for America--with only the clothes on her back. We are as mystified about her as her fellow passengers. It's only towards the very end of the book that we learn of the circumstances.

This story is a translation from the original, in German. Maybe there was some quality lost in the translation. At times, characters, settings, and dialogue are well written. Frequently, however, it seems as if something is missing or, just not well written. The main protagonist, Valentina Meyer, is variously portrayed as a sophisticated socialite, naive or, immature. Secondary characters don't fare much better.

Initially strong, plot lines, characters, and dialogue were worthy of five stars. The last 100-plus pages rendered the story unbelievable (two-to-three stars). In all, it should be allocated three-and-one-half stars, which is not possible. Hence, the three-star ranking. Don't waste your money.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A mysterious, beautiful woman without luggage, dressed in a gorgeous white evening gown, boards the S.S. Kroonland in 1904 for the transatlantic voyage to New York. She is escorted aboard by an officer who assumes she has a ticket -- but she is in fact a stowaway. This incident, based on a true story, kicks off this diverting novel first published in Germany.

We meet other voyagers inhabiting the first class cabins: Henri, a sculptor, haunted by memories of his lover Lisette; Billie, an American shop girl who is the companion of Mr. Brown, an older, married American businessman who loves his wife and four children back home; Thomas, a geologist traveling with his spinster sister who may be looking for love; Lily, a young girl who has been crippled by polio and has a sharp eye for her fellow humans and their foibles.

In steerage, the author tells us, are 800 immigrants heading for a new life in America, squashed together in the dark and smelly hold, eating plain food and suffering together when the winds and waves get high. But we are not concerned with them (and the occasional references to their existence is actually jarring because it serves no purpose in the book.) Our world is in first class, where waiters with kid gloves ply us with delicious fare.

The voyage progresses and the characters form relationships. Valentina, the mysterious woman in white, is attracted to Thomas. Billie and Henri start spending time together. A storm whips up, metaphorically as well as actually, and then subsides.

The set-up is good but there are problems with this book. The construction is clunky. The author keeps whisking back in time in flashbacks that detract from the pace of the novel and supply us with back stories that are not that interesting.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A very unusual book...think Love Boat in 1904 and take away the humor.

You have a group of people thrown together on a ship. Love blooms, promises are broken, secrets are revealed. And the most fascinating thing of all and what makes this book quite incredible is that was inspired by a newspaper article of a woman stowaway in a white evening gown. This is how this story was born. "Every one deserves a story."

Valentina is fleeing a very unhappy life. Imagine being drive away from your home, you husband, you money, all that is familiar to board a ship one night, no luggage, no money, no ties.

On this ship, many stories besides hers unfold. Henri...is a disturbed man whore of sorts. I didn't like him. I found him disturbing. From desire his father's mistress to his memories of Lisette to his replacing Lisette with Billie and him just basically thinking about every woman on the boat. He was weird.

Billie a 1904 type tramp/mistress. William the cheater who wants to have it all. There's a disturbing brother/sister relationship and numerous other couples just give brief but insightful insight into what relations were between men and women back then.

Though told through alternating POVs, interviews, and flashbacks, the story didn't lose a beat. I was quite entertained by the interviews and sadly disappointed when they disappeared toward the end of the novel.

Well done, but I didn't like Henri, thought there was WAY too little of the most fascinating character on board: Lily, and didn't once buy into the immediate LOVE between Valentina and Thomas.
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