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The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
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's review
Jan 07, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed-for-read-2-review

After listening to an interview with the author on BBC Radio 2, I thought that I would buy the book and give it a read. The subject matter is not my usual genre, but the behavior of people in unusual or difficult circumstances is always interesting.

The premise of the novel is fairly straightforward. Two years after the Titanic sank the Empress Alexandra goes down in calm seas after catching fire. 38 people are in a lifeboat that is too small though it should have fitted them comfortably. Lifeboat 14 sits in the water up to her gunnels. There are few provisions and little water on board as the row clear of the wreckage. What they do not know is that it will be three weeks before they are rescued.

Charlotte Rogan has a first novel to be envied. She has a gentle, flowing style which drifts along like the lifeboat itself. Always going somewhere, but you never know what will be thrown up at you next. So many emotions and feelings are suppressed then vented in sudden, violent squalls that you are left breathless.

The story is told in recollection by the main character, Grace Winter, as she writes down all that she remember as she stands trial for her life. I am not one to spoil a story in a review, and that I will not change. But, as the story is told in first person you know from the start that our lady must survive – the question is how?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is eloquent but never flowery. Words are not wasted to meet a publisher’s word count, neither are they clever. The story is told at the level of the main character’s intellect, no mean feet when the author is quite clearly smarter than most, if not all of the people in the boat.

A class act in story telling a definite 4 star contender.
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04/06/2016 marked as: read

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