Book Review: 'The Lifeboat' by Charlotte Rogan

A story about moral ambiguities as published in the April 2012 issue

by Amanda Lovell
the lifeboat image
Photograph: Bryan McCay

Cast adrift by her father’s suicide and her mother’s flight into lunacy, the unsinkable Grace Winter has latched onto a rich husband and is sailing home from London to a life of Gilded Age luxury when their ocean liner goes down in flames and she finds herself on an overcrowded lifeboat. “Life is a relentless sliding down,” Grace reflects later. “Eventually everyone finds himself in water up to his neck.” Over three harrowing weeks at sea, as rations dwindle, boat mates disappear (some mysteriously), alliances shift with the wind and the mood becomes increasingly mutinous, Grace has to make some tricky decisions, one of which results in a murder trial. Buoyed by this alternately forthright and self-serving narrator, Charlotte Rogan’s debut novel leaves you wondering: What really constitutes strength? Is morality a luxury? And if life deals you a rotten hand, are you entitled to palm a few cards?

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First published in the April 2012 issue

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