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Lifeboat    by Charlotte Rogan order for
by Charlotte Rogan
Order:  USA  Can
Reagan Arthur, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I just finished Lifeboat by first-time author Charlotte Rogan. I found it very hard to believe such a soul-searching story of survival could have come from someone new to the field of writing.

This tale of survival is told by one of the individuals in a lifeboat on the open sea for twenty-one days. Grace wrote a journal after the fact a simple straightforward tale of starvation, dehydration, fear, and dissension among those ocean liner passengers who managed to gain a seat in a lifeboat.

She tells of little pockets among the thirty-nine men and women (and one child) who seemed to resent Mr. Hardie, the only seaman in the cutter, who took charge of what little water they had and a small cache of hardtack. They disagreed with his desire to stay near the location of the sunken liner.

The lifeboat could barely hold all who sat in it, in disbelief over the explosion that had rocked the liner. It soon became apparent that a few would have to go overboard in order to save the majority. Would anyone volunteer? Could Grace watch someone deliberately slip into the sea to save others? Would she help throw someone overboard?

Grace's journal is written with such deep introspection that she becomes a real figure in our lives after just a few pages. She comes to know the vagaries of the sea and understands the rules that Mr. Hardie sets down. She could recognize a squall bearing down on them and suffered along with the others the chill of perpetually wet clothing.

Grace seeks to find human feelings amongst the men and women she sits beside day after day. She spends time remembering her meeting with her brand new husband, and the joy and comfort and safety she felt being married to him. She wonders about those around her and what their lives had held for them before they were so abruptly changed.

Lifeboat is gently written with an open heart. Grace feels she is what she is not weak or demanding - and finds it hard to countenance such behavior in others. Life has dealt her a losing hand and she finds ways to live with it as she plans for a better tomorrow. Lifeboat leaves the reader room to contemplate Grace's musings, and is a very hard novel to put down.

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