The Lifeboat

The Lifeboat

[a Novel]

Book - 2012
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In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying newlyweds Grace Winter and her husband Henry across the Atlantic mysteriously explodes. Henry secures for Grace a seat in a lifeboat, which its occupants quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die. As the castaways battle the elements and each other, Grace remembers the unorthodox way she and Henry met and ponders the life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?
Publisher: Detroit ; Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, 2012.
ISBN: 9781410450197
Characteristics: 367 p. ;,23 cm.


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SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“Where there is love there is life.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“But better to be hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

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alleycat Mar 06, 2020

Very well done. Unreliable narrator and complex female character. Interesting philosophical situation of a too-full lifeboat, and who should stay in it versus who should jump off for the sake of others. Great book club read.

Jul 14, 2019

Two years after the Titanic, another ocean liner sinks leaving our narrator, Grace, and 38 other people left adrift in a lifeboat. Grace is telling her story after her rescue and in response to her lawyer's request that she write a diary about her travails to help in her defense at her murder trial. No spoiler here; this is revealed at the very beginning. The writing is good and I read the book in two sittings. It would get a better star rating if the story hadn't faltered so much in the last third. The writing continued to be strong, but the author got bogged down in her own storyline set-ups and wasn't thoroughly successful in bringing everything together. Anyway, what I really loved about this book was how fascinating Grace was and how challenging and intriguing it was to try to discern what was true about what she related and what was self-serving under the circumstances. Rogan did a great job at just being vague enough at times to keep her reader guessing about Grace. Loved the first two-thirds, disappointed in the last third and in balance it's a better book to think about afterwards than it was to read. (If that makes any sense.)

Jan 27, 2019

This novel is set in 1914 I didn't realize this at first and had to read on before I finally understood this. The author might have stated the year from the start instead of forcing the reader to discover the year this takes place in. If you have recently seen the movie Titanic you will have no trouble visualizing everything that takes place.
The reviews on the From the Critics above are very good; though what the writer of the Guardian review found surprisingly funny completely escapes me.
When I first picked this up I wondered why Charlotte decided to write a fictional tail about survival at sea when there is such a proliferation of well written true stories of this kind.
There seems to be a lot of feminist ideas put forward in this story and I think it is symbolic of how women will eventually overthrow man as the dominate sex; but then man will punish her for it. Yet fence riders like Grace will take advantage of the situation always siding with whoever holds the power and remaining flexible to change sides as the need arises.
The reviews contain a lot of mention about Grace's flawed character; but when all is said and done Grace survives then she triumphs; whereas many others who chose to act noble die.

ArapahoeAnnaL Jun 17, 2018

The perfect combination of a psychologically suspenseful plot, believable flawed main character, and wider questions of how to behave in a world of limited resources where there is not enough for all. The first person narrative works beautifully as it brings us into the narrator's mind. She is an intelligent observer with telling blind spots.

May 21, 2016

This is a story of a survivor, in a lifeboat and in life generally. The appeal of the book is in the voice of the unreliable and memorable narrator.

Sep 13, 2015

Some interesting thought experiments and invitations to explore philosophical and ethical issues, but very anti-woman and anti-feminist. I found no sympathetic characters.

Sep 06, 2015

Silly me. I chose to read this on a cruise ship! Actually, it didn’t frighten me. It made me think about all the people on the ship and how would the group react who was assigned to my lifeboat during the safety drill. Bringing a group of people together brings out behaviors we wouldn’t expect, including an action that could be seen as murder. 1914 is the setting for this book, in which newly married Grace is one of the few who survived a ship disaster. I think the author has studied human behavior to create a cast of characters who either take leadership roles or followers or the totally despairing behavior of people who fault most actions, but do nothing to help with survival. It is a study in how roles change in a life or death situation. And how one reacts to return to civilization, finding themselves accused of murder. I admired the strength of Grace and the intricacies of relationships.

Jun 15, 2015

Did nothing for me. I finished it solely because I kept expecting it to interest me eventually because it had gotten such good reviews. It felt totally flat to me, like the narrator was speaking in a monotone the whole time.

KateHillier Aug 20, 2014

You don't realise how much you've probably been misled until the final third or so of the book. Grace Winters, 22 year old survivor of a ship sinking and three weeks on an overcrowded lifeboat, is in jail for murder. The book takes the form of her diary of recollections, which is is submitting to her lawyer, and a few choice flashbacks to her life before her trip with her brand new husband.

If you put a bunch of people in a cramped space in a life threatening situation, you start to see what people are made of. Or rather not see since Grace's version of events may be entirely fabricated. You'll never know and I'm not sure you want to.

Jul 14, 2014

Definitely found this novel compelling & couldn't put it down. It's written in a very simple and believable manner. Really enjoyed it.

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Dec 30, 2012

"When I was a law student I used to enjoy reading those gruesome Victorian shipwreck cases in which survivors are tried for murder after eating the cabin boy. I thought there was a novel in them, and Charlotte Rogan has (more or less) fished it out. "The Lifeboat" deals with an Atlantic shipwreck in 1914, and the narrative is in the hands of the unscrupulous Grace, who survives, but finds herself forced to explain how she has done it. It is an accomplished and smart first novel, which plays with narrative and moral ambiguity to gripping effect."
Hilary Mantel, "Globe Books", The Globe & Mail, Saturday, December 29, 2012.

SAPPHIREBEAR15 Jun 08, 2012

Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. However, cooler heads prevail, with Garrett (Cronyn) and columnist Connie Porter (Bankhead) asserting the German's prisoner of war status, and he is allowed to stay.
One passenger, an infant, dies almost immediately after boarding. His mother is a young English woman (Angel), who, after being treated by a nurse (Anderson), must be tied down to stop her from hurting herself. The woman sneaks off the boat while the other passengers sleep, drowning herself in the night.

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