A NovelBook - 2012
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.
From the critics
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“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.”
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
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"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.
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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