The Lifeboat The Lifeboat discussion

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Patricia Fast I just finished reading this book. At first I was satisfied with the ending. After I thought about it awhile, I wondered if the main character was really a sociopath who got away with murder because she was willing to do whatever it took to survive. Any opinions out there?

Alan Stuart I wondered about that too. Obviously Grace is not going to be telling the whole truth in her journal since it's something which her lawyers may present at court. At least two of the characters (if I remember it correctly) slip into the sea at night after sleeping close by. Does she bump anyone off at the first opportunity? We know she is a survivor but how far would she go? It's a puzzler.

Patricia Fast Those are good points. I also wondered why people were looking at her strangely. She also seemed to have no compassion for Maryann. She admitted to not having passionate feelings for her husband then later agrees to marry her lawyer. The more I thought about her the more I felt that I had been fooled like the jury.

della I also felt that Grace was cold and calculated. Both of her marriages seemed to have more to do with self-preservation than love. I think she may have fooled the jury more than I originally thought.

Alan Stuart As for people looking at her strangely, I'm convinced Grace in her journal is suggesting that her co-accused were plotting from early on to take charge of the boat and that she was not a part of that conspiracy.

Lesley I don't think that because she had a survivor's mentality & appeared to lack compassion she is necessarily guilty. You could see her as being more objective than Hannah & Ursula who, whilst demonstrating compassion for the women, disliked Hardie from the beginning & were actively plotting his demise. I think Hannah recognised Grace's steeliness when she said to Ursula that Grace would be useful later on. I tend to believe Grace when she says she didn't know what she would do until the last moment & that she went for the option she believed offered best chance of survival. I agree she seemed cold (& calculating in terms of her future - in both marriages). It may go against the grain but I know several people who have married for security rather than love and sometimes the marriages last longer. She must have been very focused & had an incredible strength of purpose to be able to kill Hardie in the way she did & she didn't seem to suffer much remorse but, in my view, that doesn't make her guilty of murder per se.

Thaisa Frank Did Grace kill Hardie. I think that this is an ongling moral question that th author wants us to ask and extends into broader questions she gets us to ask about the morality of people in general, people who are sometime destructive and sometimes kind, sometimes compassionate and sometimes cruel. The ambiguity is in the way Grace allowed herself to be put in a position to kill Hardie. She was almost like a drone, an instrument, that the group that explicitly had decided to kill Hardie used. So did she? A little bit? How much? That this question lingers after the book is an implication of the morals of our time and the mystique about war. Who kills? Who is responsible?

Barbara Bodem I don't think she killed Hardie intentionally, but neither do I think she lost any sleep over his death - except to consider whether she had lost the person best placed to keep her alive. Survival is Grace's primary driver in all matters - I believe she is capable of emotion and emotional attachment, but that she is supremely focused and pragmatic about such things - personal attachments to others comes distinctly secondary to self-preservation. And yet, I didn't dislike Grace, but perhaps like the others in the lifeboat, recognized and admired her strength. Not a particularly entertaining read, but certainly one that stays with you.

Jennifer I think that part of the issues presented in this book revolves around survival. What can one do to survive? How do people lose their sense of humanity? I don't think anyone can judge what our frame of mind would be after being malnourished and dehydrated. These conditions can cause a change in mental status that may confuse reality with resultant hallucinations and delusions. So I think Grace was a survivor. She chose Henry for his wealth but loved him for his person. She also chose to survive in the lifeboat.

Richard You need to remember the era this book is written in and the lack of real status for women at that time.
Grace is indeed a survivor; contrast her Father. Just because she wins through it doesn't follow she crossed the line. How honest is she, well the journal was an attempt to remember or recollect. I think she is intelligent who plays the hand of cards she is dealt better than most of the others. Henry is much weaker and their love would have been tested back in New York.

Barbara It is difficult not to be judgmental. If we step back and reflect upon the situation in which the characters find themselves then we can 'understand' the actions which may have to be taken to survive. That does not however preclude our having empathy or not for the people concerned. I did not find Grace personable or likeable and I give little credence to her version of events. In both her pre and post disaster life, she acts in self-interest and I have no doubt that this is a trait she exhibited extensively when faced with oblivion. A survivor, yes but at what cost?

Tweedledum Surely the point is once you're in the lifeboat you are trapped and cannot then step outside the lifeboat to get a more balanced view. Sooner or later everyone's perspective is going to be distorted. Truth or lies the story you tell about your ordeal will haunt you.

Thaisa Frank And of course we are all in the lifeboat.

Tweedledum Indeed

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