28 April 2012

Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Published: 3 April 2012 by Little, Brown and Company

Pages: 275 pages (hardcover)

Genre/s: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Source: Publisher for review

Check it Out: Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository


Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?

My Thoughts

The Lifeboat is a book that taps into one of those great fear moments - a ship sinks in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and 39 survivors find themselves in a lifeboat, with little food and water and no idea when, or even if, rescue is coming.  As the situation becomes increasingly desperate, allegiances are formed and broken and the survivors are forced to make some impossible decisions.

Grace is a seemingly sweet if naive young woman, but as more of her story emerges before, during and after her time at sea, her motives and actions become more and more muddied.  Is it reality, or simply an over-active imagination and blurred memories?  With flashbacks to her and Henry's courtship, the hours before the sinking of the ship and her criminal trial, the truth becomes ever more evasive.

The Lifeboat also poses some interesting moral questions - if you own survival is at stake, how far would you go to ensure that you were last man (or woman) standing.  How can a particular situation or person influence your actions, and in such a fishbowl environment can everything be taken at face value?

The language in which The Lifeboat is written is perfect for the era - I was immediately immersed in the world of 1914, and the desperation and anxiety of the survivors had me completely hooked.

The Lifeboat is an incredible debut for Ms. Rogan - it reads like a book written by a seasoned, experienced author.


  1. I didn't really get into this one. I thought it was well-written, but I couldn't stand the MC, which really took me out of the story. Glad you liked it, though!

    1. I can completely see that - and I also found her a little 'distant', but for me it actually added to the whole twistiness (is that a word?) of the story!



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