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.
What is it about a shipwreck that is so fascinating? Especially when survivors on lifeboats are involved. There’s just a certain something that is so scary about it. Imagining being out there in the middle of the ocean, nothing but water as far as the eye can see and no way to know if you’re going to be rescued, surrounded by scary sharks and fish and whatever other business is down there in the water, just waiting to pull you under and eat you. So sinister. The synopsis of the book made me think of the Hitchcock movie Lifeboat, which is really incredible and should be seen by everyone.
The book was slow going early on as Grace begins her story, which is told in sort of a diary format written as evidence for her upcoming trial. What she is on trial for we do not know, but as the story unfolds we find out exactly what’s going on and why she’s having to defend her actions. Even though some of them may not be wholly defensible.
Grace is a tough character to like. She’s both devious and weak, which is a deadly combination for me – and not in the badass deadly way, in the “yuck, I wish you were dead” way. She’s also the type who needs a man, so bleh. Oh, oh, and she’s conniving! And a snob. So as you can see, I didn’t care for Grace at all. I didn’t care what happened to her and it made me struggle with the book.
There are definitely some male vs. female gender issues at play here while they’re on the lifeboat, and to me that was the most interesting part. Watching the dynamics as people split into groups and face off with one another over control was kinda fascinating.
I actually found myself skimming the last chapter, which should have been the most interesting part. But I found it a bit info-dumpy and by that point I was ready to be over with it. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.