I can only surmise the author was independently wealthy before this book was written, or it would have been completely overhauled before its publication. While very well written, nothing really happens that we as the audience particularly care about. A mysterious explosion on a transatlantic ship, stolen jewels and hidden gold! A murder on an overcrowded lifeboat filled with peril!
All of this comes up in this book, but not a single thing is addressed with any satisfaction. The main character, Grace is supposed to be the typical unreliable narrator, but character development is so weak throughout everyone in this book that Grace comes off as having the personality of a shoe instead of unhinged, calculating, devious or even strong. Instead of suspense or mystery we get a platform for the author to explain her politics. Women were unequal to men in 1914! (gasp) Women couldn't vote or even serve on juries! (I'm shocked) Men wrote laws that governed women! (oh the injustice)
What saves this book is the pretty excellent writing, poor character development aside. But I was disappointed that what was described as a mystery thriller was actually a diatribe on gender politics of the early 20th century. And being an educated person with average brain function, I sort of already knew that it wasn't kosher.
Originally, while listening to Charlotte Rogans telling of this harrowing experience, I was looking for clues to a mystery. Sometimes one doesn't even know the victims name until act two, right? Then I was caught up in the suspense of the court trial of the survivors. Finally, I just gave in and began to fully pay attention to the drama unfolding inside this woman. Forced to reevaluate everything, including how she got into that lifeboat in the first place, our lead character finds that she can be as ruthless and ambitious as she needs to be to survive, and that those characteristics, while they may save her life do not make her the woman she has always dreamed of being. As others realize this too, so does the reader...she doesn't get it until after the survivors of the large boat are rescued and she is forced to recall everything for her trial.
I love survival stories, so I bought Lifeboat based on some (including editor) reviews. I was so disappointed. There is no character development, suspense, clear story line. The book drags on interminably with events -- that's not enough. I stuck with it, hoping it would improve. It didn't. If you appreciate this genre, read Sole Survivor, Adrift, Unbroken, Life of Pi, In The Heart of the Sea.
The Lifeboat surely ranks as one of the least enjoyable books I have ever read. The story is disjointed and hard to follow and the characters are poorly drawn. The narration is unremarkable. Nothing positive to say about this book. Don't waste your time.
This book was so unfocused and unsatisfying. Not a thriller, it seemed to be trying to be a character study, yet none of the characters ever came alive for me.
There are better books to read with this subject matter. Don't waste your time on this one. The characters are boring and I never felt a connection with any of them. Grace, the main character rambles on and on. It doesn't help that the performance is dull as well (but, that may be a result of the content). It raises a couple of interesting discussion questions for a book club, but again there are better books to spend your time on.
The events in the lifeboat struck me as completely realistic and authentic, yet the setting was so unusual that it was riveting to see what would happen next. The narrator's voice was perfect. Her tone and inflection enhanced the literary writing and seemed right out of 1915. The interplay between big ideas and the small irritations of the lifeboat experience were nicely woven. This is a good yarn and requires a little thinking to get the most out of it.
This is not my normal reading material but it was on my book club list so I took a chance. I absolutely despised the characters, finding them cruel with little or no moral compass. In trying to excuse their behavior in light of their situation, I despised them even more. Amazingly good read if you are willing to accept that these people are not likeable. Then again, a book that can hold your interest even when the characters are awful is probably a wonderful read.