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The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
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The Lifeboat (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Charlotte Rogan

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8367710,778 (3.47)75
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Title:The Lifeboat
Authors:Charlotte Rogan
Info:Little, Brown Young Readers (2012), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Fiction
Rating:****
Tags:Shipwreck, Read 2012

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The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
In general, I was not that moved by this novel. It may be that I have read true stories about people stranded for days, weeks, and more in lifeboats, or on anything that floats. Knowing that a story actually happened can make a disaster grip me much more than a piece of fiction that doesn’t involve me. Also, the fact that this story is from the position of a person of privilege — and I have a serious distaste for the rich and the large role they play in our fictional entertainment — is a major drawback to my attachment to the story. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 21, 2014 |
Two years after that OTHER famous shipwreck, newly married Grace finds herself in a lifeboat with 38 other people after the ship she was on explodes. It ain't a picnic. Think 'Lord of the Flies' on a crowded lifeboat in the early 20th century. It reminded me of 'Life of Pi', which I've been meaning to reread, so reading this kind of held off the craving of reading that one a while (too many books!) 'The Lifeboat' is crammed with a ton of people rather than 'Life of Pi's one person in a boat. Both books are very psychological... but not enough for me to understand some of the motives of the characters in 'The Lifeboat'. That would be my main complaint with this well written book, but to be fair, these were people thirsty, starving and delusional in a lifeboat, maybe the point is they didn't have motives. Grace is an unreliable narrator, which makes sense in this situation as well. I'll look forward to the movie!

Something new in the back of this book is a list of the author's favorite books. I haven't seen this before, but it's like taking a peek at a writer's bookshelf. I wish other writers would make lists like this. Some good books on that list, which shows why this one is so well written. ( )
  booklove2 | Apr 23, 2014 |
This is a powerful and taut novel from a new author about the experiences of a number of passengers and one crew member who escape in a lifeboat from the sinking of the (fictional) Empress Alexandra liner in 1914. The novel focuses very largely on the relationships between the survivors, their mental deterioration and the moral dilemmas thrown up by their situation, and it contains some powerful set piece scenes. The cause of the sinking is never made clear (though there is an explosion involved) and the eventual rescue of the survivors after three weeks afloat is dealt with very laconically in retrospect. Three of the female survivors are charged with the murder of one of the other survivors on the lifeboat. The events don’t all happen in a chronological order, and occasionally I felt as though an unnecessary spoiler had been given about the fate of a particular character, but this is a very minor point. An excellent page turner. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 8, 2014 |
For most of the read, I found this book pretty gripping - at first, from the suspense of wondering how things would turn out on the lifeboat, and then from curiosity about what the twist would turn out to be: what were all the glances really about that Grace interprets and reinterprets? what's the box Hardie has (or doesn't have) tucked away? what arrangement was made in order to get her on the boat? what really was her role, and (more important) what was her motive, in the event that ends up with her trial for murder? But there was no twist, there were no answers, or at least no revelations and so the novel seemed, in the end, to be less than it appeared to be -- I had the feeling of its fizzling out. Maybe I was just reading it with the wrong expectations, looking for layers of plot where all we get are layers (but vague, insubstantail layers) of character. I appreciate that Grace herself is designed as a complex and unreliable narrator - but unreliability only really works as a technical device if we have some measures of the reality the narrator is distorting, and some sense of larger purpose, and I could not discern what that was in this case.

The book comes dripping with critical praise - full of terms like "engrossing," "subtle," "beautifully constructed," "harrowing," "enthralling," "tantalizing." Huh. Then there's this: "Every literate mom will love this book!" Not this one, I'm afraid.
1 vote rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
Survival in its most basic form makes for a compelling story, but the discussion such a story creates can be just as absorbing. At least this is what our Monday Night Bookclub found when we met to discuss The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan.
Our opinions on the book’s protagonist Grace was somewhat consistent; smart, class conscious, self-absorbed, cunning and above all, a survivor. But we did vary on the power of the story.

Some found it gripping, convincing and well structured, while others thought it lacked intensity and a powerful climax. Sandra cared little for any of the castaways and felt nothing at their demise. Jean anticipated dramatic consequences that never transpired (much to her frustration!).
Mary was conscious that history is always told by the survivors and was skeptical of Grace’s story on how things unfolded on the lifeboat.
All these points took us into a fascinating discussion on the human psyche and the act of survival, with Cherie and Jean relating personally known experiences.
In the end, it was unanimously agreed that it is impossible to know how you would react in such a situation, and we all hope never to find out!

Tuesday Book Club

As a rule, the underlying theme of your typical novel is not hard to determine. In fact, it tends to be one of the first observations our group will make and agree upon. Then along comes The Lifeboat. The title alone cries out ‘survival’ as its focus. But as our discussion moved along it became clear that Grace was hiding more than a callous need to survive.

It was Anne who suggested that Rogan’s main character was in fact even lying to us and that as readers we only have her version of what happened in the lifeboat. Can we believe her? In learning how she purposefully manufactured her life (before the shipwreck) and those in it, we think not!
So, now our thread of thought seems to be moving into the realm of manipulation and falsification and how one person uses others to advance their own ends. Some argue that this is a form of survival, but this cut little ice with most of us.

In fact, there was no sympathy for Grace within our group, or for anyone else for that matter. We all conceded that the story was well written, but there was a certain lack of connectivity to the passengers and their predicament, where we thought we should be feeling a great deal of sympathy and compassion.
Much was left to speculation, which in turn left us wondering what we would have done and begs that big question any story of this sort asks … is it worth sacrificing a few for the many?
This novel provides no whys … only whats, so if you’re looking for a read that will give you all the answers, we suggest steering clear (pun intended) of The Lifeboat! ( )
  DaptoLibrary | Oct 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Rogan writes viscerally about the desperate condition of the castaway, of what it is like to be “surrounded on four sides by walls of black water” or to be so thirsty your tongue swells to the size of “a dried and hairless mouse.” But it’s her portrait of Grace, who is by turns astute, conniving, comic and affecting, that drives the book.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, SARAH TOWERS (May 4, 2012)
 
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Epigraph
I shall sing of the flood to all people. Listen!

—The myth of Atrahasis, last lines
Dedication
For Kevin
And for Olivia, Stephanie, and Nick
With love
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Today I shocked the lawyers, and it surprised me, the effect I could have on them.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Grace Winter, twenty-two, is both a newlywed and a widow.
She is also on trial for her life.


In the summer of 1914, Grace elopes with Henry Winter in London, hoping to escape the disapproval of his wealthy family. When the elegant ocean liner carrying them home to America suffers a mysterious explosion, Henry sacrifices his own safety and secures Grace a seat in a lifeboat, which its occupants quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

Adrift on the Atlantic, the weather deteriorating and supplies dwindling, the castaways scheme and battle, caught up in a vicious power struggle between a ruthless but experienced sailor and an enigmatic matron with surprising powers of persuasion. Choosing a side will seal her fate, but Grace has made her way in the world by seizing every possible advantage. As she recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met and considers the new life of privilege she thought she'd found, Grace must now decide — will she pay any price to keep it?

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.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316185906, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Forced into an overcrowded lifeboat after a mysterious explosion on their trans-Atlantic ocean liner, newly widowed Grace Winter battles the elements and her fellow survivors and remembers her husband, Henry, who set his own safety aside to ensure Grace's.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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