Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Book Review: The Lifeboat

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.

I picked the perfect day to begin reading The Lifeboat. With a thunderstorm rolling in, I tucked myself up in bed and transported myself to the tiny lifeboat where Grace and her companions faced the treacherous ocean for days on end. Whether or not it was the atmosphere of the storm outside or Charlotte Rogan's detailed writing, I couldn't help but feel like I was tipping back and forth in the boat along with the rest of the characters. Needless to say, I was sucked into the story from page one and managed to finish reading the entire novel in two days straight.

The Lifeboat presents a gripping tale of a young woman facing the pressures of life and death in the open sea. One of the things I loved most about this book was the politics and struggle for power between the unique cast of characters stuck in the lifeboat together. In a way, the examination of survival and human endurance reminded me slightly of Life of Pi by Yann Martel, minus the animals of course. The framing narrative of the novel was also extremely interesting, and I couldn't help but revel in the suspense of discovering whether or not the jury would find Grace guilty or innocent of murder. Without giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that the ending was absolutely perfect, and I was able to put down the book with a great feeling of satisfaction when I was done. 

That isn't to say, however, that The Lifeboat wasn't without its faults. I became so engrossed by the story that I couldn't help but want it to expand some of aspects of the narrative. For example, I would have loved to have learned more about Grace and her relationship with her husband Henry. I feel like readers are only given the Sparks notes about Grace's past before the boat sank. Revealing more about Grace's life leading up to the lifeboat would have certainly helped to develop her character a little bit more. Also, readers are left with a lot of unanswered questions regarding some aspects of Hardie's character (a sailor who helps to direct the lifeboat), and whether or not he was actually looking out for his own interests. I suppose the reader is meant to come to their own conclusions about this  unresolved storyline, and base their judgements off of the rumours and gossip of the other characters on the boat. 

Despite these unanswered questions, I really did enjoy my time spent reading The Lifeboat, and would recommend it to readers who enjoy stories about survival and the struggle faced by the human spirit during challenging circumstances. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan will be available April 3rd, 2012. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars


Ikhlas said...

Great review, Natalie! When I heard you talking about it on your vlog, it did sound a lot like Life of Pi (minus the animals).

Can't wait to pick this one up myself :)

Chelsey said...

I love your descriptions of the storm rolling in! For some reason, what I am now titling "atmospheric reviews" are my favourite lol. A glimpse into the context the book was read in! Great review =)! This sounds like a super interesting read.

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