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June 12, 2012 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The LifeboatThe Lifeboat
by Charlotte Rogan
Narrated by Rebecca Gibel

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publish Date: April 3, 2012
Format: Audio, 7 hours | 47 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy
Rating: 2½ of 5

In the summer of 1914, newlyweds Grace and Henry Winter are traveling on an ocean liner across the Atlantic when a mysterious explosion rocks the ship. Henry was able to secure a place for Grace in a lifeboat, but it was now at full capacity and he was unable to join her. As the novel begins, Grace, now a widow, has finally been rescued and is facing trial for murder. This is her story of what happened during the time at sea in the lifeboat.

As Grace tells the story of the days adrift in the ocean, she also thinks back on her life and how she met Henry. The entire novel was told from Grace’s perspective. We never heard from any of the other people in the lifeboat; all we know is what Grace tells us. I was never certain whether or not her version was the truth as it really was, or the truth as she wanted it to be. My biggest problem was, I didn’t like Grace. The other characters in the lifeboat, people I would have liked to know more about, weren’t very well developed and we never had a chance to hear their story. Multiple narrators would have created another level of complexity, something I would have liked to see.

The writing itself was good. The book was readable, or in my case, listenable, and the narration was pleasant enough, but I never engaged in the story. I continued listening though, hoping something exciting would happen. But instead the book merely kept me company while I was gardening. So much potential for a compelling story … and then … nothing.

Grace was too passive, too introspective. We heard a lot of her thoughts, musing, ruminations; a little too cerebral for a story about a group of people lost at sea, fearing they would die. If this was supposed to be a psychological study about what happens to people when they are stuck in unimaginable circumstances, as I thought it would be from the description, then it failed for me. In the end, many questions remained unanswered and I remain unsatisfied. The author was deliberately vague in too many areas.

An excellent premise for a novel that never came to fruition. Did I miss the boat, pun intended, on this one?

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Source: Public library.
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.

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11 Comments

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  1. Mary / Jun 12 2012 8:55 am

    I haven’t read the book (the premise doesn’t tempt me) but I’ve read several reviews. They’re all over the board so yours didn’t surprise me. Sorry it didn’t work for you.

    • Leslie / Jun 12 2012 2:13 pm

      I noticed that too about the other reviews. I only skimmed them in case there were spoilers. I’ll have to go back and read them now.

  2. sagustocox / Jun 12 2012 9:15 am

    Hmm, too introspective…that doesn’t sound like a good way to go with this one.

  3. Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) / Jun 12 2012 2:03 pm

    I’ve heard good things about this one, so I’m sorry to see you were disappointed. If I decide to give it a try, I think I’ll avoid the audio version, though. My mind wanders too much for audio books.

    • Leslie / Jun 12 2012 2:10 pm

      The audio wasn’t a problem. With only one point of view, it was pretty easy to follow.

  4. BermudaOnion / Jun 12 2012 6:11 pm

    The reviews for this book really vary widely so you’re not the only one who’s felt this way.

  5. Leeswammes / Jun 13 2012 10:26 am

    I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the beginning. I didn’t like Grace much either, but I liked it that she was a flawed character who was probably re-writing the story to her own liking (as you say).

    • Leslie / Jun 13 2012 8:50 pm

      I don’t mind flawed characters, but about half way through I got very tired of hearing only from Grace. I think multiple narrators would have helped for me. Of course multiple narrators would have greatly changed the dynamics of the story and obviously that was not what the author intended.

  6. Sherry Solomon / Jun 26 2012 11:40 am

    Felt the same way – I didn’t really enjoy it and just kept waiting for something more to happen. Perhaps I wasn’t quite in the mood for this story as I see some people liked it a lot. I just didn’t but I would suggest people be open-minded about this one as they read through the reviews and comments.

    • Leslie / Jun 26 2012 3:58 pm

      Part of my problem was I was expecting a different type of story. Some people did like it a lot so perhaps mood or expectations has something to do with it.

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