The Lifeboat By Charlotte Rogan
Reagan Arthur Books - Historical Fiction
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?