Friday, October 19, 2012

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan


The Lifeboat By Charlotte Rogan
Copyright 2012
Reagan Arthur Books - Historical Fiction
278 pp.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan is a book I desired to read from the moment I heard about it on Twitter.  It took quite a while to get my hands on a copy and then I gave in to the urge to immediately read it.

It is 1914 and Grace Winter is on trial as The Lifeboat opens.  Why is she on trial?  You have to read about her experience to understand.  After an opening scene in the present, during her trial, the narration then shifts from present to past as Grace reflects upon her time in a lifeboat.  A newlywed, Grace and her husband Henry were on their way home to America from London when a mysterious explosion occurred, quickly sinking the boat.  Grace managed to find a slot on an overcrowded lifeboat; her husband remained behind.

With little water or food and too many people on the lifeboat, the passengers drift, hoping for rescue.  But, as days go by without the appearance of a ship, a power struggle develops and when a storm brews, their lives depend on reducing the number of people in the boat.

After telling the story of who lived and died on the lifeboat, the narration shifts back to present tense with an end to Grace's trial.

The cover flap says:

 "The Lifeboat is a masterful debut, a story of hard choices, ambition and endurance, narrated by a woman as complex and unforgettable as the events she describes."  

I'll agree with all that.  The Lifeboat is endlessly surprising, a harrowing, dramatic book both externally driven and emotionally complex.  I liked the historical setting -- after the Titanic, before the first world war and sinking of the Lusitania.  The Lifeboat is one of those books that makes you ponder, "What would I do in these circumstances?  Would I sacrifice myself or fight to survive?  Stay quiet or stand up and proclaim what I felt to be right or wrong?"  Recommended.  I can't say I loved Grace, and that is the only reason The Lifeboat doesn't get my highest recommendation.

Cover thoughts:  I love the cover!  I think it's absolutely beautiful.

Kitty fix:  Isabel on our new living room rug.  Kind of wild, isn't it?



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12 comments:

  1. The book does sound thought provoking. I always think I'd do the right thing but you never really know, do you? Your rug looks like a mosiac!

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    1. That's what I love about the book, Kathy. When you try to set yourself in someone else's shoes and the circumstances are dire, you have to wonder . . . would I really do the honorable thing? Yeah, I'm always sure I would, of course. LOL

      It does look a bit mosaic-like, doesn't it? I love it. Now I'm thinking I may have already posted this picture. I get FB and my blog confused a bit, sometimes. I know I posted it there.

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  2. I really enjoyed this book too, Grace was such an unreliable narrator. Have you read Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch?

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    1. That's a great way to describe Grace! Nope, I haven't read Jamrach's Menagerie, but I'm pretty sure I have a copy of it. I have this bad habit of putting things on my wishlist and then just sticking them on the shelf when I manage to get a copy. Pretty sure that one's in a box, somewhere. :)

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  3. Yeah the cover of Lifeboat sort of conjures The Perfect Storm or something, ha. Not all is well for sure!

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    1. It does, doesn't it? I hadn't thought about that. The storm clouds do look ominous but I think I am in love with the color! Silly, but true. :)

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  4. Hmm, this one does sound intriguing but I wonder if I'd like Grace. Not liking the MC really tends to ruin a book for me.

    Isabel doesn't seem to mind the rug so who cares what anyone else thinks. ;)

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    1. That was really my only problem with The Lifeboat, Jenny, and it was enough to keep me from absolutely loving it. Otherwise . . . the story is good, much more complex and plot-heavy than I expected.

      Ha! Good thinking! Both kitties like the rug, actually. And, in fact, they seem to love the new house. It's very open, so they have more running room and I guess they're a bit less likely to get their tails stepped on.

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  5. I'm not sure about the book, but the rug is awesome!

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    1. Why, thank you, dear. I do love my new rug. It's not just the cats who are fond of it. The book is very good but maybe I'm just too picky. Grace just wasn't a heroine I could fully get behind. She was, as Sam mentioned, way too unreliable.

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  6. I go back and forth on wanting to read this. Maybe someday.

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    1. I really, really wanted to read it and was just a touch disappointed because of the heroine. But, I do like a book that makes me question how I'd react under the same circumstances. Might be a good discussion book for that reason.

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