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The Lifeboat Paperback – 3 Jan 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 254 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (3 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844087549
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844087549
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (254 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 204,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Almost unbearably exciting - you'll gulp it down in a single sitting (Kate Saunders The Times)

You will be gripped (Andrew Holgate Sunday Times)

Ingenious. . . An unflinching examination of the will to survive . . . Vividly exciting, beautifully paced and surprisingly funny; in Grace, Rogan has found a voice that is both fresh and mysterious (Justine Jordan Guardian)

Rogan's rip-roaring tale is a chilling reminder of the cost of survival (Elena Seymenliyska Daily Telegraph)

A magnificently layered book . . . As compelling as it is profound (Daisy Goodwin Sunday Times)

Book Description

A daring and adventurous novel set just before the First World War. It begins in a courtroom, where an enigmatic young woman named Grace Winter is on trial; in flashback, we learn why . . .

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Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was so excited to read this book, it had great reviews and sounded like just my kind of thing. Sadly I found the characters to be lacking in depth and struggled with the narrative style, having read half of it I switched to listening on my kindle and this worked better, I guess it's written too much like a verbal account. Just because it wasn't for me does not mean it's bad though. My wife read it too and she felt the same as me that the writing style was not as engaging as it could be. I was looking forward to an existential story about survival and humanity and whilst a few of these themes were thrown in, it could have been a whole lot more than this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a book club choice and we all agreed that although we were excited to read it, and it was a pretty good book, exploring the psyche and psychology of a variety of strangers living in a deeply stressful situation in close proximity, we felt there there were far too many unanswered questions at the end of the book, which is why I haven't given it more stars. Especially frustrating was a sub-plot about a box that belonged to Mr Hardy that never got resolved. We didn't particularly like the protagonist, Grace, either, finding her selfish and self absorbed. That said, however, the writing created some brilliantly vivid scenes that still remain with me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this up in a bookshop and thought it looked an interesting premise, so I downloaded it but was intrigued to read the other reviews before I started reading. They seemed to be polarised between really loving it and completely disliking it! I agree with the more negative reviewers that there are two things that were slightly irritating about it, and which could easily have been rectified with more rigorous editing:
firstly, there was little definitiong between the supporting characters. Apart from the main protagonist and two or three other occupants of the lifeboat, the others were entirely interchangeable. It was hard to remember who was who, and even some small detail about each one would have been helpful. It was difficult, for example, to feel sorry for Rebecca when we had never heard of her before she suddenly popped up and had a crisis, then was gone again. But perhaps this is what the author intended - to convey the sense that, after the event, all these people were an amorphous blur of humanity who had little impact on the protagonist.

The other irksome thing was that there were many plot threads dangled tantalisingly in front of the reader but never tied up. There were many hints that certain untowards things might have happened prior to the sinking of the ship, but none of them were followed through. Again, this might be because the protagonist knew or heard all these hazy details but never knew the truth of them herself. But for the reader, it was frustrating.

However, despite the above, I found this book strangely mesmerising. Considering it's about a bunch of people stuck in a lifeboat for three weeks, the author managed to keep me reading on at a considerable pace. It's one of those books that, while you're reading it, you want to read on and on.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I did not enjoy this book at all. I was unable to feel anything for any of the characters and at no point did I feel transported into the boat and get a glimpse of the suffering. A very disjointed book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not sure I liked the character Grace, some interesting concepts about human strength in adversity and in the end found it an ok book but not quite a riveting read as I'd hoped
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I read the synopsis for this book I wondered whether a story about 39 people stranded in a lifeboat together for 21 days could make up a whole book. I mean, just how much excitement can there be in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean? But the book had good reviews so I downloaded it.

As it happens, not a great deal does happen in the lifeboat. The story starts with our Narrator, Grace, in court charged with her part in the murder of another member in the boat and the story is her journal of what happened. Considering the gruelling conditions experienced, lack of food and water, sleep deprivation and alternating drought and rainstorms being just a few, she is able to accurately recount these details on a day by day basis. I was expecting the book to be quite harrowing and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, to be able to imagine how the people were feeling and coping with the tragedy of losing loved ones, coping with personal difficulties and generally enduring such conditions in a small open rowing open boat. In particular, one woman had a small boy, but the child's age was never mentioned, nor any reference as to how the mother coped with a young child for 21 days in such conditions. A great many occupants of the boat remained nameless throughout the story, and those that did feature had under-developed or boring personalities, so it was hard to care what became of them. The most heart-wrenching part for me was at the beginning of the book when the oarsmen pushed away a young boy in the water trying to get in the boat, because it was already over-crowded.

Very little is told about what happened prior to the explosion on the ship which made it sink, and much of it is speculation as to how and why it happened.
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