The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Regan Arthur • $24.99 • ISBN 9780316185905
publishing April 17, 2012
Historical fiction

This first novel is high on our list of most anticipated debuts, and it definitely lives up to the hype. An existential story of survival and a brutally honest look at the depths of human nature, The Lifeboat is sure to be among the best books of 2012, period.

Early on, it becomes clear that this is not a novel about the triumph of the human spirit, but the human will. Grace Winter, just 10 weeks married and six weeks widowed when the novel opens, narrates the story in retrospect. She describes the scene as their overcrowded lifeboat attempts to get away from the floundering ocean liner before it is dragged into the vortex the sinking ship will create, under the direction of the only seaman aboard, Mr. Hardie. Three swimming men approach the boat and grab on.

One of the men caught my eye.  His face was clean-shaven and livid with cold, but there was no mistaking the clear light of relief that shone out from his ice-blue eyes. On Hardie's orders, the oarsman sitting nearest him beat one set of hands away before beginning on the hands of the blue-eyed man. I heard the crack of wood against bone. Then Hardie raised his heavy boot and shoved it into the man’s face, eliciting a cry of anguished surprise. It was impossible to look away, and never have I had more feeling for a human being than I had for that unnamed man.

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