I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Published by Reagan Arthur Books on April 3rd 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Source: the Publisher
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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?
The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.
‘[…] the mind can work to suppress traumatic experiences, and I suppose that is true, but sometimes I think the failure to remember is not so much a pathological tendency as a natural consequence of necessity […]’
Grace Winter and her new husband Henry are traveling across the Atlantic to New York on the Empress Alexandra when a mysterious explosion sinks the ship. Grace manages to obtain a spot on a lifeboat but her husband was not and she presumes he is dead. The story begins though, with Grace no longer in the lifeboat, saved after 21 days at sea, but currently on trial for murder.
Being stranded in the middle of the Atlantic is a horrifying enough though but The Lifeboat’s extreme focus on the suffering and the change in mentality that the individuals undergo truly make you wonder if earning a spot on that lifeboat was actually a blessing. We learn the details of what occurred on the lifeboat from Grace directly, as she’s been instructed to do by her lawyer in an attempt to find some way of exonerating her. Grace is a deceptively simple woman that is actually far more manipulative than I think anyone gave her credit for. Her sense of self-preservation is strong and when rehashing the sequence of events which took place on the lifeboat, she always finds a way to reinterpret her actions so as to always come out ‘right’. As you learn more of her story, you’ll begin to start questioning her actions and realize how unreliable a narrator she has been the entire time.
“…was bluish-black and rolled past us like an unending herd of whales. The lifeboat alternately rose high on their broad backs and slid down into the deep depressions between them. Above, clouds hurtled through the sky before the wind…. I shivered, and for the first time since the day of the shipwreck, I felt profoundly afraid. We were doomed.”
The traumatic situation these individuals found themselves in was only made worse as time progressed and the rapid reduction of food and water quantities only succeeded in speeding up the hysteria. Fear begins warping mentalities and speculations arise creating more danger inside the boat than the sea itself. This story of survival is fascinating and appalling, but put in a similar situation who knows what lengths you would go to in order to ensure your own survival?