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. 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.
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books
Three stars: A book with a fascinating and terrifying premise, but it falls flat because too much is left undone at the end.
Grace Winter at 22 years of age, barely survived a terrifying experience, and now she is on trial for her murder. It all started when Grace and her new husband, Henry, boarded a luxury ocean liner bound for America. Unfortunately, the ship never reaches America. Instead a mysterious explosion sends the ship toe the bottom of the ocean. Grace is one of the lucky ones, thanks to Henry’s quick actions, she finds herself aboard one of the lifeboats. Little does she know that she is about to spend a harrowing two weeks in the tiny vessel. Thirty nine people are in the boat. As supplies start to dwindle and hope of rescue begins to wane, the ugliness in humanity comes out. Who will survive and at what cost?
What I Liked:
- I was fascinated by the premise of a group of hapless survivors fighting the sea and the elements in a tiny life boat, trying to survive. I knew that conditions would decline and that things would get ugly, which of course it did. This was an edgy, terrifying and addicting read. If you like survival stories, this is one to check out.
- Grace is a conundrum indeed. At first meeting, the reader learns she has survived only to find herself on trial for murder. Grace provides the narration, and at first, I wanted to be sympathetic toward her, but as the story wears on, I quickly realized that she was an unreliable narrator. What was she hiding? Was she mad due to her ordeal or was there something more? It is a perplexing problem the reader must try and sort out. I thought this added to the suspense and mystery of the story.
- The story takes place two years after the sinking of the Titanic. So supposedly there were enough seats and lifeboats for all aboard, but could the maximum occupants in a lifeboat survive the seas for an extended length of time? The author does an excellent job with the atmosphere. I enjoyed the sense of urgency, and I liked watching things spiral downward as madness, hopelessness and fear set in. Then the claws and ugliness come out. It is a frightening thought indeed to be afloat in a small lifeboat on a vast ocean. Shivers....
- The story moves forward and backward in time as the reader is reading the account courtesy of Grace’s journal written while she was in prison after the rescue. I thought the author did a good job blending the past and the present.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Rebecca Gibel. I thought Ms. Gibel was spot on with her narration.
And The Not So Much:
- The ending is confusing to say the least. The current situation for Grace is resolved but so much is left undone. There are all these little mysteries uncovered all throughout the book, and almost none of them are solved. For instance, what did Henry give Mr Hardie before putting Grace on the boat? What was in Hardie’s box? What caused the explosion? What were Henry’s mother’s feelings toward Grace? There was far too many things left undone for my liking.
- I finished the book completely frustrated as I didn’t have a strong idea on Grace’s character. Was she crazy? Was she cold and calculating? I wanted more information.
The Lifeboat was a book I wanted to love, but it ended up being frustrating. I was sucked in by the story line centered around a group of people trying to survive in a lifeboat, and all the little mysteries that surrounded the main story. However, the book ended up falling flat for me because by the end, too much was left unfinished.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.