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That Sinking Feeling   Leave a comment

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally after finishing a book I’m uncertain
how I feel about it. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan leaves me ambivalent.
It’s an interesting premise: a group of 40 adrift after their ocean liner explodes
at sea. The year is 1914, so the event is sandwiched between the (unrelated) sink-
ing of the Titanic and the Lusitania.

Grace, newly married, is the narrator whose story is based on journals she is
asked by her attorneys to prepare after the fact. Perhaps some of my hesitance
to rave or rant lies in Grace. It’s clear as she relates how she came to marry her
her husband that she is a manipulator, if not an all-out gold digger. Few of the
characters act admirably in the adverse conditions, but remember Grace is tell-
ing the story. However, even she admits her memory is faulty, at best, from the
extreme conditions of being lost at sea for an extended period of time (at least
two weeks).

Where Rogan shines is descriptive writing: “The boat pitched and rolled as it
alternately climbed the foamy heights of the waves and then descended into hell-
ish troughs so that we were surrounded on four sides by walls of black water.”
It’s enough to keep me away from a boat of any size let alone one meant to save
lives.

Rogan’s boat is a metaphor for choices made and the motivation behind them.
The question I’m struggling to answer is if the idea’s strong enough to hold water?

Lifeboat
Three Bookmarks
Little, Brown and Co., 2012
278 pages

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