BOOK REVIEW: The Lifeboat – by Charlotte Rogan

Title: The Lifeboat
Author: Charlotte Rogan

Genre: Historical Fiction, Survival
First published: March 29th 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Finished reading: September 26th 2017
Pages: 340

“It’s my experience that we can come up with five reasons why something might have happened, and the truth will always be the sixth.”

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I had a copy of this novel collecting dust on my shelves for over a year now and the other day I decided to pick it up on a whim. I mostly read on my kindle nowadays, but it’s good to have an actual physical copy in my hands every now and then… I admit The Lifeboat was a cover-love buy, although I was also intrigued by the 1914 historical setting. To be honest, I’m still on the fence about this one. The Lifeboat is a character-driven story predominantly set on a lifeboat, where the characters have to survive after their cruiseship sinks on the way to New York. The story is told mostly in diary form where one of the characters relates what happens during that time and some of the story is also dedicated to the aftermath. While I thought the historical setting and tone were well executed and even can be seen in the way the characters interact with each other, I also felt the pace was quite slow and this made it harder to properly enjoy the novel. Honestly, nothing much really happens during the story and it’s mostly about the interactions between the characters and how they react to being is such a dangerous situation. Character-driven stories can be fascinating, especially when the characters find themselves in such a dangerous situation, but I wasn’t convinced by The Lifeboat. Part of this feeling probably has to do with the fact I was never able to connect to the characters, making it harder to care for them or what would happen to them. Grace (the narrator) actually became irritating at one point. I liked how the aftermath and trial is also discussed and how difficult it is to judge people and their actions in such extreme situations though. All in all I ended up having mixed thoughts about The Lifeboat, but fans of character-driven historical fiction novels might have a better time reading this one.

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In the summer of 1914, Grace Winter is on her way back to New York with her new husband Henry on board of a cruiseship. Then the unthinkable happens and the ocean liner suffers a mysterious explosion, sinking the ship. Henry is able to find a place for Grace on one of the lifeboats just before that… Although the survivors on that particular boat soon realize that they are over capacity. If any of them want to survive, they will have to make some sacrifices… What will happen to them? And what about Henry and the others on the cruiseship?

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I had high hopes for this one despite the low rating, mostly because I was in the mood for a proper historical fiction read in the first place. The Lifeboat without doubt had the right historical feel that was even reflected in the way the characters interacted, but I also felt that special spark was missing. Nothing much really happens during the story despite the horrific situation the survivors find themselves in. The aftermath chapters did added something to the plot, although it was mostly talk and unfortunately rather dull. Combined with a slow pace and unlikeable character this wasn’t one of my favorite historical reads.


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WWW Wednesdays #156 – September 27th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently close to finishing Bentwhistle The Dragon: A Threat From The Past by Paul Cude, a YA fantasy read with dragons. The pace is quite slow, but there is no doubt that the worldbuilding is extensive with a lot of attention to details and descriptions. I’m also about to start Heartless by Marissa Meyer, a story I’ve been wanting to read for months… I’m really looking forward to that one. IT by Stephen King I decided to put temporarily on hold until October so I can finish some other books first… Plus, it’s probably the perfect Halloween read for next month in the first place right? 😉

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW 28/09
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up my copy of Flowers For Algernon, but I’m more than happy with what I found. The writing is simply brilliant, as both the progress reports and the prose itself give the perfect insight of what happens to Charlie during the experiment. The way others react to Charlie during different stages of the experiment is both intriguing and unfortunately very accurate as well. Hopefully an eye opener! Flowers For Algernon is able to provoke strong emotions and is utterly heartbreaking in the end.

2. Snuggle And Play Crochet by Carolina Guzman Benitez (4,5/5 stars) NO REVIEW
These patterns are absolutely adorable! I will be looking forward creating at least a few of these as gifts for a few of my friends who have either young children or are about to be parents… I’m having a feeling the loveys will be a huge success, although the plush animals are adorable as well. I’m still a crochet newbie, so I could really appreciate the helpful explanations of the different stitches and how to put the different parts together!

3. Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite (3,5/5 stars) REVIEW 29/09
This psychological thriller is mostly a character-driven story and the pace was a lot slower than expected. I struggled a little in the beginning, both because of the pace and my lack of connection to the characters, but the second half of the story more than made up for it. I loved the countdown idea and how slowly more of the present day event is revealed… And the final part is more than shocking! The story will make you think a lot of things and suspect a lot of people, but I can garantuee you won’t guess the final truth about what really happened.

4. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (3/5 stars) REVIEW 01/10
I’ve only just finished this one so I need a little time to think… It’s a character-driven story set in 1914 on a lifeboat, where the characters have to survive after their cruiseship sinks on the way to New York. The pace is quite slow and I’m not a fan of the characters, but the historical setting is quite well done and it shows in the way the characters interact as well. Nothing much happens during the story though. I’m still on the fence about this one to be honest.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m picking up Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell next even though the publish date is still relatively far away… I’m dying to find out how the series continues.  Another ARC I need to pick up soon is Halfway by Lokesh/Anubhav Sharma. I also want to read I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh; I’ve had that one on my TBR for way too long now. My newest TBR jar pick is still Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, a historical fiction read which I have been wanting to read for ages so I’m really happy this title popped up.


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