May Meeting

For our meeting on Wed 9 May, we are reading The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan.

Jacket Synopsis:
In the summer of 1914, the Empress Alexandra, a magnificent transactlantic liner, suffers a mysterious explosion en route to New York City. On board are Henry Winter, a rich banker, and his young new wife, Grace. Somehow, Henry manages to secure a place in a lifeboat for Grace. But the survivors quickly realize it is overloaded and could sink at any moment. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace watches and waits. She has learned the value of patience – her journey to a life of glittering privilege has been far from straightforward. Now, she knows that life is in jeopardy, and her very survival is at stake.

Over the course of three perilous weeks, the passengers on the lifeboat plot, scheme, gossip and console one another while sitting inches apart. Their deepest beliefs about goodness, humanity and God are tested to the limit as they begin to discover what they will do in order to survive.

Our Rating: ★★★¼☆ 

One Response to “May Meeting”

  • Gwen:

    With scores ranging from 2 stars to 4, The Lifeboat provoked a disparate response from the book club. The plotline contained all the ingredients for an exciting and engaging read – too many people crammed on a lifeboat that is slowly sinking with no rescue in sight. Who survives, who doesn’t and why? This is told entirely through the viewpoint of Grace, one of the survivors, and therein lies the problem with the book.

    Grace came across as selfish, manipulative and willing to do anything to survive. Although it is not necessary to like a character to like a book, some club members found Grace’s character to be “flawed” and “unconvincing”, with one reader lamenting that if she had given up her space in the lifeboat, “we would’ve been spared her awfulness”. As readers, we would have liked a greater insight into her thought processes. We would also have liked to be treated to the viewpoints of other key characters in the lifeboat, such Mrs Grant and Mr Hardie. Despite Grace’s great ability to adapt, and therefore survive, her character seemed too thinly drawn.

    That being said, The Lifeboat provided much food for thought on the instinct to survive, on the role of justice, and the theme of gender. All of these were subverted on the boat, but once back on land prevailing norms were restored. For this reason, a number of club members gave The Lifeboat 4 stars. Overall the book is worth reading, but as readers, we are somewhat left wanting.

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