Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Lifeboat” as Want to Read:
The Lifeboat
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Lifeboat

3.20  ·  Rating details ·  23,373 ratings  ·  3,644 reviews
In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying Grace Winter 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.

Adrift on the Atlantic, the weather deteriorating and supplies dwindling,
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Lifeboat, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Selene One of the big points of this book is how unreliable Grace is as a narrator. Read all the major reviews to get a better picture. They do more justice …moreOne of the big points of this book is how unreliable Grace is as a narrator. Read all the major reviews to get a better picture. They do more justice than I ever could. This is a book that, upon finishing it, makes you immediately want to read everything anyone has to say about it, or it did for me anyway!(less)
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Help by Kathryn StockettTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Smart Summer Reads
4,478 books — 5,217 voters
Life of Pi by Yann MartelThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayMoby-Dick or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonThe Odyssey by Homer
Boat Books
697 books — 453 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,373 ratings  ·  3,644 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Lifeboat
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
the atlantic ocean.
39 people.
one lifeboat.

where people stop being polite and start being real.

oh, yeah...

i loved this book.
it has all the elements of a good survival story with all the furnishings of a well-written mystery novel. alliances will form, motives will be shrouded, lies and misdirection will win the day, and exposure and deprivation will make even the well-intentioned people a little loopy and unreliable.

it is a great idea for a novel, and rogan writes it well. the framing devi
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had such high hopes for this book as it sounded like such a good plot for a story. This book is about 39 people adrift in the ocean in a lifeboat after a mysterious explosion on their ocean liner (think sinking of the Titanic). Grace Winter, newly wedded and now a widow, is one of those on a tiny lifeboat not fit for 39 people. How do 39 people survive together with different points of view, little water and even less food?

This was really difficult for me to get through, but I plowed my way th
lark benobi
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read the book very quickly and enjoyed it as I read it, and then I got to the end and I thought, huh. Just..huh. It left me with no other thought except a certain neutral feeling that I was glad that was over and I could read the next book.

So is it enough for a book to be entertaining while you read it, and then forgettable? I guess that should be enough, only this was ground that has been covered better before, by Alfred Hitchcock. But where Alfred Hitchcock's film is visceral and tense, in t
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
When it occurs to a man that nature does not regard him as important, and that she feels she would not maim the universe by disposing of him, he at first wishes to throw bricks at the temple, and he hates deeply the fact that there are no bricks and no temples.
- Stephen Crane, The Open Boat

Before I even read the first page of The Lifeboat, I knew that no matter how bad Charlotte Rogan’s book might be, I was still going to like it, at least a little. The reason: you can’t go wrong, dramatically s
Richard Derus
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.875* of five

The Publisher Saith: 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 unort
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Arah-Lynda by: karen
Shelves: lets-get-real, i-said
To set the stage; it is 1914 and 39 people, including our narrator Grace, are adrift in the Atlantic, in a life boat that was not designed to hold so many. Their provisions are scant and the possibility of imminent rescue is at best uncertain; but for the reader this story actually begins some time later when Grace our narrator, is about to stand trial for her life.

In preparation for this Grace must recall as much as possible about what happened on that lifeboat and when.

What follows is a capt
Elyse  Walters
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Oh Boy...This author has a new book coming out....
I can't help but wonder if I'll be less cynical if I read it. I was dying laughing -rolling on the floor laughing sharing about all my thoughts about this book with my husband..later my kids.
Something about it hit a giggle nerve. I was re-writing this novel as fast as I was reading it in my head! ( mine was comic-tragedy of course-- mostly heavy on the comedy).
I never understood why this little book was so popular for awhile.
Maybe for a great l
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was a mediocre mess of a historical novel. I had seen some rave reviews of this book and was intrigued by the story: a young woman survives a shipwreck on the Atlantic Ocean in 1914, and there is a power struggle among those on the lifeboat.

Generally I am interested in survival stories and books about civilized society breaking down, but this novel was a pain to get through. For starters, the writing was more juvenile than I expected, and I wondered if I had accidentally picked up a YA nov
Apr 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Wanted to throw myself overboard by chapter three...rather than read any more. But I did. It was hell.

The idea is great: rags to riches governess is in a Lusitania type sinking in an overfilled boat.

Everything's there...but it is as tedious as being stuck on that boat.

Rogan writes well, above average in many ways, but in the all fashionable first person which all publishers now seem to like. Even then, we don't engage with the main character and if you can't nab us in the first person..well...

May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Set in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War, after the sinking of the Empress Alexandra a group of 39 people are left adrift in a lifeboat, built to hold far less, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for 21 days. This tale is told retrospectively from the point of view of Grace Winter, a 22 year old newlywed, who manages to find a place on a lifeboat. But the lifeboat she's found herself on is overloaded and in danger of sinking, there isn't enough food and water for everyone on board, s ...more
Simon Howard
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was really attracted to the idea of this book: 39 passengers on a lifeboat struggling for survival, making tough choices, and operating within a tricky ethical and moral framework.

But, for me, the book didn't live up to its promise. The characters were poorly developed - I simply didn't care about them. The single first-person narrative structure lessened the reader's ability to interpret the situation from multiple points of view - and the narrator is a dull, reasonably submissive, self-cent
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I re-read The Lifeboat in January this year as it was chosen for my book club. I had initially read it for the first time in 2012. I really loved it the first time around and enjoyed it just as much the second time. It got very mixed reviews at my book club and I don’t think everyone was as eager as I was about it!

I loved the fact that Grace Winter was an unreliable narrator; therefore we couldn’t believe the majority of what she told us readers. I came to the conclusion that she was an extreme
Holly Weiss
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Article originally published on

Survival in a lifeboat may sound like a simple plot line, but it astounds in the hands of debut novelist, Charlotte Rogan. In The Lifeboat Grace Winter, age 22, sails from Europe to America with her new husband in order to meet her mother-in-law. After an explosion on luxury liner, the Empress Alexandra, Grace’s husband Henry secures her a place on a lifeboat. She survives three weeks in the overcrowded boat. Upon rescue, she finds herself on tr
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Clear the decks and call in sick; once you begin reading this riveting this debut book, it's going to be hard to come up for air.

The narrator, aptly named Grace, appears on the first pages and right away, we know a few important plot points. We know that Grace survived on a lifeboat after her ship - like the Titanic two years prior - goes down. We also know that she is now on trial for a murder that took place during the ensuing ordeal. But here's what we don't know: how reliable is Grace as the
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jill, IL
Shelves: debut, fiction
Lifeboat snapped me to attention with its opening line delivered in the prologue "Today I shocked the lawyers, and it surprised me, the effect I could have on them." A first line might not make or break a book but it can set the tone and draw you in. This one tickled my curiosity to read on and find out the who, what and why.

This is the perfect book to coincide with the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. If you've ever wondered what it might be like to be forced to abandon your co
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Empress Alexander has sunk and some of the passengers escaped on lifeboats. That is where we begin this story, in the lifeboat and on the first day. Grace, the protagonist, made it onto a lifeboat and we see the events and the people through her eyes. In some ways it is a literal recounting of the 21 days on the lifeboat as Grace is writing journal entries to remember each day and event as she sits in a jail cell in Boston. The crime is not currently clear but will be explained, day by day, ...more
Dec 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
The ship you are traveling on sinks. You are fortunate enough to have a space on one of the lifeboats. But it is over crowded,people are desperate.Hard choices are made, people die. Rescue comes after twenty-one agonizing days.And when you are finally on dry land, you and two other women are on trial for murder. That is the book. Told as dispassionately as the author wrote it.
I have read other books with the lifeboat premise. And they were pretty good. What happened to this one I do not know.
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I vacillated back and forth with whether to give this three stars, because the story sort of faltered a bit the last 60 pages or so, or four stars because the writing was really quite brilliant. In the end, I settle on four because a debut novel this well written deserves a star bump.
The narration of the ships accident and subsequent lifeboat ordeal was very compelling. There are some mystery/intrigue/suspense type "teasers" that didn't really pan out, I don't think. And, I'm not really sure I
Ava Catherine
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book made me think about what I would do if I ever found myself in a survival situation. Would I remain calm and act in a moral and ethical manner, or would I become someone I do not know? Someone ruthless and only concerned for my survival? How can I truly know the answer until I am confronted with the dilemma like the people on the lifeboat? I can only hope that I know myself to my core...but do we ever really know?
What would you do to live?
I'm very disappointed.

The story line held so much promise that was sadly unresolved and unrealized. None of the characters were likeable. There wasn't enough real information to know them or see them clearly. All of the action in the story was told with a vague and unemotional delivery. I felt manipulated and used by the author and publisher and I regret spending my money on this book.
aPriL does feral sometimes
Well, it's a bit flat, but that's because the main protagonist, Grace, is a cold calculator who might be a bit of a sociopath, or not, but I'd say that due to her environment of genteel respectability and finishing school education, her personality is initially undeveloped. However, the experience of being shipwrecked and on a lifeboat with 40 people for 21 days either changes her personality, or what I believe, rubbed off the cultural accretions that she had accumulated in growing up. She survi ...more
Julie Christine
In the late 19th century a large number of shipwrecks led to tales of atrocities committed by those who survived; many were put on trial under charges of murder and cannibalism. Charlotte Rogan recalls these accounts and marries them with the early 20th century ocean liner disasters of the Titanic and Lusitania to create a harrowing exposition of human behavior.

In 1914, en route from Britain to American, an ocean liner capsizes after a mysterious on-board explosion. Several life boats are fille
Gary  the Bookworm
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Landlubbers
Recommended to Gary by: My beloved book club
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos I'm not a big fan of boats: I've only been on one cruise (not counting annual booze cruises in Aruba). I have, however, read two unforgettable yarns set in lifeboats in the past few months. The first one was Unbroken which I read and liked earlier this year and now this one. It is a remarkable achievement. The story unfolds during a trans-Atlantic voyage a few days after those fateful shots were fired in Sarajevo in 1914. Henry and Grace, newlyweds, are separated during the chaotic moments a ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Today, and this month marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic. The Titanic went down historically on April 12th, 1912. On that note, The Lifeboat is being published this month. I was sent a copy by Penguin. I started to read it 2 days ago.

Wow, The Lifeboat blew me away with its narrative. The Lifeboat is literary, but it is also filled with mystery, and suspense. After the Titanic went down, did you ever wonder what it was like on the lifeboats for them? Did you re-call if you saw the movie,
Katie Ward
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read this book, remember to breathe. Several times my eye zipped all the way down to the end of a chapter, or jumped back over several details in the previous paragraph, before I took in oxygen again. Book Apnoea, I’ve decided to call it.
The premise is simple: 39 people are in a lifeboat. That’s practically everything you need to know, except even the most casual reviewer should supply a bit more. It’s set in the year 1914 somewhere in the Atlantic. It’s told retrospectively from the poin
Misha Mathew
Warning: This book is highly disruptive to one's daily routine.

I just couldn't stop reading it, despite the fact that I've exams going on! I had to know what happens to Grace, who is an unforgettable character and the narrator of the book. Grace is not exactly likable nor is she particularly trustworthy - there are many times I doubted the credibility of her words. But she is a character who remained with me, along with Mrs. Grant and Hannah.

This book has something for everyone. It is scary, su
Diane S ☔
Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thirty nine people in one lifeboat adrift for many weeks waiting for rescue, some strong some not. Rogan takes what is a relatively simple plot line and than fills it with moral ambiguities and decisions that keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. Not sure what I think of the main character and narrator Grace, we are filled in on her back story, except to say that I felt she was definitely an opportunist, but above all she is a survivor, not only of the ship sinking and subsequent tri ...more
In the summer of 1914 the Empress Alexandra sinks; this elegant ocean liner suffers from a mysterious explosion and all the passengers scramble for safety. Henry Winters managers to secure a place on a lifeboat for his new bride Grace but when the people on the lifeboat soon realise they are over capacity the real struggle for survival begins.

The Lifeboat is an elegant and thrilling novel with many complex issues weaved into it. For any to live, some must die but the hard choice of survival can
Rogan’s debut novel, written in her fifties, imagines another ocean liner disaster between the Titanic and the Lusitania. Her Empress Alexandria catches fire and sinks in 1914, leaving half the passengers stranded in lifeboats on the Atlantic. The book is presented as the diary account of Grace Winter, a newly married first class passenger whose husband finagles her a last-minute seat on an already overcrowded lifeboat captained by crew member Mr. Hardie. Predictable squabbles break out onboard, ...more
April (Getting Hygge With It)
I was really sad to see the star rating for this because this was a wonderful book! It's like Life of Pi meets Alias Grace. I was sucked into the story and was fascinated by the characters and how they interacted with one another. So good! ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Forsyth County Pu...: Book Chat July 2018 1 9 Apr 10, 2018 10:28AM  
You'll love this ...: September 2016 - The Lifeboat 125 49 Sep 24, 2016 01:17AM  
Moms Who Read!: The Lifeboat 2 10 Sep 08, 2016 01:03PM  
Book Buzz: Disaster fiction 3 11 Jul 29, 2016 11:10AM  
Gwinnett County P...: The Lifeboat 1 17 Mar 24, 2014 03:12PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Clara
  • Keeping Your Kids on God's Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith
  • Livet går så fort. Och så långsamt.
  • Bokskåpets hemlighet
  • Further Up the Path
  • Legs
  • Stormvakt (Strindberg, #1)
  • Glossarium
  • The Orchardist
  • Very Old Bones
  • The New Boys of Summer: Baseball's Radical Transformation in the Late Sixties
  • חוצי
  • Нидерланды. Каприз истории
  • Ain't She Sweet (Seven Brides for Seven Mothers, #2)
  • Barnsjukhuset
  • Falco (Herkulesserien, #5)
  • And Every Word Is True
See similar books…
Charlotte Rogan spent 25 years as a closet writer before THE LIFEBOAT was published in 2012. The book was nominated for the Guardian first book award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Goldsboro Books and Historical Writers Association debut historical fiction prize. It was included on The Huffington Post's 2015 list of "21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should r ...more

Articles featuring this book

The setting: an overloaded lifeboat adrift in the ocean. The dilemma: Would you kill to survive? Characters must choose in The Lifeboat, a...
17 likes · 39 comments
“I wondered if all a person could hope for was illusion and luck, for I was forced to conclude that the world was fundamentally and appallingly dangerous. It is a lesson I will never forget.” 6 likes
“I had been allowed to believe in man's innate goodness for the twenty-two years of my life, and I had hoped to carry the belief with me to my grave. I wanted to think that all people could have what they wanted, that there was no inherent conflict between competing interests, and that, if tragedies had to happen, they were not something mere human beings could control.” 6 likes
More quotes…