|Little, Brown and Company|
Inprint : Reagan Arthur Books
Published April 3 2012
My Review 5 *****
1914, two years after the sinking of the Titanic, and the Empress Alexandra, five days out from Liverpool and set for New York, suffers a mysterious explosion on board ship, which necessitates the ship’s evacuation. Grace Winter, newly married and on her way to America with her banker husband, Henry, is placed in a lifeboat alongside some of her fellow passengers. Set adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, and under the dubious guidance of crew member, Hardie, the occupants of the lifeboat must learn to adjust and compromise, but the situation is far from easy, and it soon becomes apparent that the lifeboat is overloaded.
When then follows is Grace’s documented narrative of the time spent languishing in the lifeboat, her observations and petty indignations are played out superbly well. Grace is neither likeable, nor hateful, and yet her volatile vulnerability and awareness of the greater implications, are what keep the story alive. Running throughout the narrative is an underlying menace which seeks to emphasise the power struggle between the major players, and yet the story encapsulates perfectly the ennui of the unending expanse of ocean, which combined with Grace’s social observations, make this a compelling read.
Ultimately, this book tells the story of survival at its most basic level and yet its multi layered and systemic dialogue encourages the reader to think beyond the obvious as it burrows deep into the very essence of human behaviour.
Charlotte Rogan took over ten years to complete the story of The Lifeboat. This book is a testament to her tenacity, and is an amazing debut from a very talented author.