Book Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

De reddingsboot by Charlotte Rogan

I read a lot of positive reviews of this book on other people’s blogs, so when Dutch publishers uitgeverij Signatuur had a giveaway for the Dutch translation of the book, I entered, and was one of the winners.

My copy was a small hardback, a kind of hardback pocket book. This turned out to be very pleasant to hold and read. The book was mainly a diary and the size of the book fitted that very well.

The Lifeboat: What it is about

The book starts with Grace having lunch with her lawyers. She has been accused of something and seems rather hysterical. After this short chapter Grace tells about the life boat in which she spent several weeks after the cruise ship she was travelling on with her husband, exploded.

Every day and every night is a new chapter. The reader gets to know the most important people on the lifeboat, their characteristics and their opinions about the situation. There are too many people aboard. Will some have to jump overboard on a voluntary basis, will people be assigned to jump off, or is it not really necessary because they will be found and rescued really soon anyway?

Alliances are formed and besides the physically unpleasant situation, Grace also starts to suffer psychologically from the situation she’s in.

Later on, the court case is focused on again, and we find out why Grace is there and what the verdict is.

The Lifeboat: What I thought

The story takes place at the beginning of the first world war and that’s noticeable from the beautiful language that is used in the book. Although I knew that Grace would be rescued – as she was in a court case at the beginning of the book, that took place after the time in the life boat – there was a lot of suspense in the story about when and how the boat would be found and how many people would be left alive.

There are about 40 people aboard at the beginning of the story and bit by bit the readers gets to know a few of these people. But because there is very little moving around (as it would make the boat sway) we, like Grace, don’t know very well who most of the other people are. I liked that: because Grace could not physically get closer to these people, they didn’t matter much (to her) and so, they weren’t mentioned. They would only be mentioned at the point where they became more important in the story.

I thought the story aboard very beautiful and exciting. The court case and the story surrounding it, I found much less interesting.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 272 (Dutch edition)

First published: 2012

I got this book: won in a giveaway from Dutch publishers Uitgeverij Signatuur

Genre: historical fiction

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

21 Responses to Book Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

  1. Suzanne says:

    This sounds good – a bit like Lord of the Flies

  2. This sounds tempting, but it is about a BOAT! 🙂

  3. Mystica says:

    I like the story and I also like that it is in the form of a diary. I like that format very much.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mystica, yes, that format works really well. It’s extra interesting that you can’t be sure Grace is a reliable narrator, she may be making her story look better (for her) than it is.

  4. JoV says:

    Since you say it is good, it must be good! I always like the lifeboat situation, makes you think who you would choose at the most crucial moment.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I think you’d enjoy this, Jo. In fact, how come you haven’t read it yet? 🙂

      • JoV says:

        Yes, how come? 🙂 I will see whether they have a copy in the library. Just that I have been cutting down on my library loan. It is down to 3 books now, while previously it was 18! that’s why. 😀

      • Leeswammes says:

        Jo, you’re a wise woman cutting down on library books! I think this will be a book for you, so at least have a browse in the book when you’re at the library.

  5. Chinoiseries says:

    I would be skeptical, as it deals with so many characters (too many… like in The Translation of the Bones), but I believe it is good if you say it is good 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Chinoiseries, there were a lot of people on board, but not all of them was focussed on. I’m not one for many characters either, but in this book that wasn’t a problem.

  6. Leslie says:

    I just didn’t like Grace and wanted to know more about the other people on the boat. But of course that wasn’t the author’s intention! I can see where this book would stimulate some good discussions.

  7. You liked it more than I did 😉

  8. Pingback: The Waterstone’s 11 (2012): The Lifeboat | Lucybird's Book Blog

  9. Rosemary W says:

    I have it on my list to read; now that I’ve read your blog, I’m more interested than ever.

  10. This is my bookclub read for this month. Glad you liked it, hope I will too.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Sam, I think it’s a good book to discuss in your group. I bet some people will like it while others won’t. Should be an interesting discussion.

  11. Pingback: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan « JoV's Book Pyramid

  12. Pingback: The Lifeboat- Charlotte Rogan | Lucybird's Book Blog

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