Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (4/2/2012)
Paperback, Large Print (8/22/2012)
Paperback, Large Print (1/8/2013)
Compact Disc (4/3/2012)
Compact Disc (6/19/2012)
April 2012 Indie Next List
— Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
View the List
Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life.
In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.
As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found. Will she pay any price to keep it?
The Lifeboat is a page-turning novel of hard choices and survival, narrated by a woman as unforgettable and complex as the events she describes.
Praise For The Lifeboat: A Novel…
"A superb first book...a cunning narrator...A psychological horror story...Rogan paints a vivid picture first of grimly necessary heartlessness...The Lifeboat is a tremendously fast-paced read...in a tantalizing turn, Rogan leaves it up to the reader to decide who deserves to walk the proverbial plank, stirring a diabolically fun internal debate. Rogan is a novelist on her maiden voyage, but she steers The Lifeboat with a remarkably assured hand."—Mary Pols, Time
"Beautifully constructed first novel...Rogan crafts a harrowing, suspenseful tale of survival...Grace is a bold and compelling creation, a female protagonist whose humanity is revealed not through her vulnerability but by a cool pragmatism that could have made her repugnant in the hands of a less skilled, sympathetic writer...The Lifeboat raises these forever fascinating questions without moral posturing or sentimentality."—Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today
"The Lifeboat is both an enthralling story of survival at sea and a novel that is satisfyingly concerned with the characters of its own storytelling...[The Lifeboat]bristles throughout with moral and historical dilemmas that arise from events in the text, and will provide argumentative fodder for book clubs...One hell of a debut."—Jonathan Raban, New York Review of Books
"The Lifeboat traps the reader in a story that is exciting at the literal level and brutally moving at the existential: I read it in one go."—Emma Donoghue, author of Room
"The Lifeboat is a spellbinding and beautifully written novel, one that will keep readers turning pages late into the night. This is storytelling at its best, and I was completely absorbed from beginning to end."—Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods, July, July
"The Lifeboat is a richly rewarding novel, psychologically acute and morally complex. It can and should be read on many levels, but it is first and foremost a harrowing tale of survival. And what an irresistible tale it is; terrifying, intense, and, like the ocean in which the shipwrecked characters are cast adrift, profound."—Valerie Martin, author of Property and The Confessions of Edward Day
Back Bay Books, 9780316185912, 304pp.
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- In disaster situations, is it right to save women and children first? What moral justifications exist for your answer?
- Discuss the thought experiment referred to in Grace’s trial, also known as “The Plank of Carneades.” Is either the first or second swimmer to reach the plank justified in pushing the other swimmer away?
- What do you think of the concept of necessity as a justification for behavior that would not be condoned in ordinary circumstances?
- If you were to ask Grace what qualities she looks for in a friend, what would she say? What would the truth be?
- Which characters, in your opinion, hold the moral high ground?
- Seventeenth-century political philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke postulated that humankind started off in a state of nature and gradually gave up certain freedoms in return for security, an exchange sometimes called the social contract. How does the lifeboat approximate a state of nature? Does survival in such a state require giving up personal freedom and autonomy?
- Some modern writers assert that the advances in opportunities for women have been predicated on the requirement that women become more like men. Do you agree with this?
- Are people more likely to revert to traditional male/female roles in crisis situations? What traditional male/female traits might help a person survive?
- Author Warren Farrell, who writes about gender issues, has said: “Men’s weakness is their façade of strength; women’s strength is their façade of weakness.” Does this hold true for the characters in The Lifeboat?
- In his book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, Nathaniel Philbrick argues that an “authoritarian” leadership style is useful in the early stages of a disaster, but a “social” style becomes more important over time. Does this dynamic fully explain the power struggle in Lifeboat 14 or were other forces at work?
- Does power always involve the threat of coercion? Besides violence, what forms of power influence the characters in The Lifeboat?
- The first thing a person says is often more honest than later explanations. Are there instances in the book where a character’s early words are a clue to assessing the truth of a particular situation or incident?
- Do you think Mr. Hardie stole or helped to steal anything from the sinking Empress Alexandra? Would this have been wrong, given that any valuables were destined to be lost forever?
- Should Grace have been acquitted of Mr. Hardie’s murder?
- Comment on the use of storytelling in the novel. Does your answer shed any light on Grace’s own story?