I wanted so very much to like this book. It's about one of those great, classic old cruise ships, like the Queen Mary, that is about to be taken out of service. But before she is, she's taken on one last great voyage from LA to Hawaii. The story focuses on a handful of people who are taking that last cruise: Christina, a 37-year-old farmer from Maine who's trying to decide if she should give her husband what he wants (children); Mick, a Hungarian chef who has been given his highest assignment yet on this final cruise; and Miriam, an elderly member of an Israeli string quartet, brought on board by the ship's owners, who want them to premiere a new piece one of the owners composed.
This is a good setup, and at first I was drawn in by the characters and the situation. Christensen is a particularly strong food writer, and the scenes taking place in the ship's kitchens are especially fun. But there's also the tension of the "Upstairs Downstairs" nature of cruise ships, where those doing the serving are living in markedly less luxury than those they serve. There's also an exploration of what it's like to be an elderly Jew who served Israel in the Six-Day War, but is now not as enamored of the actions of the current Israeli government.
After a while, though, it seemed like an awful lot was going on. Besides the principal characters, there are a host of secondary characters, many of whom seemed to exist only as mechanisms for moving the plot forward. There is not just one, but two implausible romances. Things happen much too quickly.
And too much happens. I won't give spoilers, but Christensen threw every crisis she could think of at this poor old ship. And that ended up diluting many of the story lines and weakening the whole book.
Finally, the ending--OMG. Again, I won't spoil it, but it felt entirely like the author got tired of writing the book and said, There, it's done. I don't need everything single thing tied up in a neat bow when I read a novel, but this ending was way too far on the other side of the spectrum.
So, not a hit for me.