Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Lifeboat

by Charlotte Rogan
Rating: PG-13

It is two years after the Titanic has sunk. War is quickly coming to Europe and newlyweds Grace and Henry quickly book first class passage on the Empress Alexandra, trying to get back home to New York. The only darkness on Grace's horizon is the thought of meeting Henry's family, a well-to-do banking family. Her darkness quickly expands as a mysterious explosion rocks the ship and Henry miraculously gets her into a lifeboat with 38 other people, including one crew member, leaving Henry behind. For the next several weeks, Grace and the others in the lifeboat discover what survival really means and just what they are willing to do to ensure it for themselves. When life is restricted to the very next moment, you never think what will happen when you actually manage to survive. What happens when a court of law holds you accountable for the atrocities that occurred in the terrible name of survival?

As with the others I've recently reviewed, this book was well-written. But this one was deeply disturbing to me. I guess it is the spectre of confronting what darkness could lie in each of us - in me - in similar circumstances. We like to believe that we would be noble and moral. That no circumstance could change our convictions about right and wrong. This book forces us to question - would we? Would we really?

There was no bad language that I can recall and no sexual references. There was a scene or two of sometimes brutal violence, although not bloody, and much death - sometimes by choice and sometimes by force. This is not light summer reading and only read it if you are prepared to feel internal upheaval. It certainly brings a lot of larger points and ideas for discussion which makes it good for a book club.