Irma’s ship, the S/S Servia

In When We Were Strangers, Irma crosses the Atlantic on the Servia. This was a real ship that received heavy use in transporting emigrants. I liked the name, but took the liberty of having the ship leave out of Naples rather than her standard port of Liverpool. You can read about the Servia’s long history and see photographs and drawings  here. I discovered this site after writing the novel; much of my description of ship conditions during Irma’s voyage comes from Philip Taylor’s classic study: The distant magnet: European emigration to the USA.Passenger lists from various European cities can be found through the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild.

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

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Workshop on Point of View for the Knoxville Writers Guild, Sat. Feb. 18, 2017, 10am to noon

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“Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, in Under the Same Blue Sky, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I. With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

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