Reviews for Lifeboat

Booklist Reviews 2012 April #2
A young woman's first-person story of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds reveals truths about human nature and, particularly, about herself. Married just four weeks earlier, Grace and Henry Winter cut short their visit to London in 1914 after Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated. Wealthy Henry is able to book their passage back to New York on the Empress Alexandra and then to wangle space on a lifeboat for Grace as the ship is sinking. Grace's survival is never in question--in the opening pages, she's one of three women from her lifeboat being tried for murder--but her story is no less harrowing for that, since she reveals more of herself throughout her ordeal. Early on, ship's crewman Mr. Hardie is a hero on the boat, providing invaluable if harsh leadership, whether deeming that some must be sacrificed for the sake of all or strictly doling out limited rations. But things change as conditions worsen. This is an accomplished first novel, noteworthy for its moral complexity and the sheer power of its story. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #1
First-time novelist Rogan's architectural background shows in the precision with which she structures the edifice of moral ambiguity surrounding a young woman's survival during three weeks in a crowded lifeboat adrift in the Atlantic in 1914. The novel begins with Grace back on American soil, on trial for her actions on the boat. Two other female survivors who are also charged, Hannah and Mrs. Grant, plead self-defense. Grace, guided by her lawyer Mr. Reichmann, who has had her write down her day-by-day account of events, pleads not guilty. Rogan leaves it up to the reader to decide how reliable a narrator Grace may be. Newly impoverished after her father's financial ruin and subsequent suicide, New Yorker Grace set her sites on the wealthy young financier Henry Winter and soon won him, never mind that he was already engaged. They sailed together, pretending to be married, to London, where he had business and they legally wed before boarding Empress Alexandra (named for the soon-to-be-assassinated Tsarina) to return home. When an unexplained explosion rocks the ship, Henry gallantly places her, perhaps with a bribe, into a lifeboat already packed to over-capacity. She never sees him again. An Empress crewmember, Mr. Hardie, quickly takes charge of the passengers, distributing the limited rations and organizing work assignments with godlike authority. As hope for quick salvation dims, passengers fall into numb lethargy. Some go mad. There are natural deaths and (reluctantly) voluntary sacrificial drownings. Dissention grows. Mr. Hardie's nemesis is the sternly maternal Mrs. Grant and feminist Hannah, who plant suspicions about his motives and competence. Grace avoids taking sides but eventually helps the other women literally overthrow him into the sea. Is she acting out of frail weakness, numbed by her ordeal, or are her survival instincts more coldblooded? Even she may not be sure; much of her conversation circles morality and religion. The lifeboat becomes a compelling, if almost overly crafted, microcosm of a dangerous larger world in which only the strong survive. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 April #2

Rogan's elegantly written debut draws the reader into the confidences of Grace Winter, a 22-year-old newlywed then widow fighting for her life. In 1914, during a transatlantic crossing, the ship carrying Grace and her husband suffers a crippling explosion and begins to sink. Henry secures a place for his wife on an overcrowded lifeboat, but once among the debris and wreckage, the survivors realize that the boat is unstable. Some passengers will have to die so others can live. The castaways begin to battle the sea and the weather while engaging in a psychological battle of wills against one another. As life and death loom on the crest of every wave, it is unclear who will turn on whom and what will happen to this collection of desperate humanity. VERDICT Within the framework of a simple narrative that draws readers in on waves of fear and desperation, this stunning and suspenseful tale of survival offers a terrifying vision of human nature. Rogan's portrait of a protagonist who considers time, memory, and the loss of innocence in her shifting ruminations is unforgettable. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/11.]--Ron Samul, New London, CT

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Library Journal Reviews 2011 November #2

An explosion on an ocean liner gliding across the Atlantic has dire consequences for 22-year-old newlywed Grace Winter. Suddenly, she's a widow, and because the lifeboats had been filled to overflowing, with people fighting (sometimes unsuccessfully) to climb aboard and stay there, she's also on trial for murder. A great book-club pick--and just in time for the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic.

[Page 51]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 February #2

Set at the beginning of WWI, Rogan's debut follows 22-year-old Grace Winter, a newlywed, newly minted heiress who survives a harrowing three weeks at sea following the sinking of her ocean liner and the disappearance of her husband, Henry. Safe at home in the U.S., Grace and two other survivors are put on trial for their actions aboard the under-built, overloaded lifeboat. At sea, as food and water ran out, and passengers realized that some among them would die, questions of sacrifice and duty arose. Rogan interweaves the trial with a harrowing day-by-day story of Grace's time aboard the lifeboat, and circles around society's ideas about what it means to be human, what responsibilities we have to each other, and whether we can be blamed for choices made in order to survive. Grace is a complex and calculating heroine, a middle-class girl who won her wealthy husband through smalltime subterfuge. Her actions on the boat are far from faultless, and her memory of them spotty. By refusing to judge her, Rogan leaves room for readers to decide for themselves. A complex and engrossing psychological drama. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick & Williams. (Apr. 10)

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