Paperback review: The Lifeboat, By Charlotte Rogan


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The Independent Culture

Rogan's debut novel really is a daring, imaginative tour-de-force, going where few experienced writers would want to tread, mainly because the subject matter is so immense.

Grace Winter is on trial for murder, after surviving the sinking of an ocean liner, the Empress Alexandra, just two years after the Titanic. Along with 37 others, she was cast adrift in a lifeboat that couldn't carry all of them. Some would have to sacrifice themselves to the waves to save the rest. This nightmarish concept is made plausible and real by Rogan's sea-faring knowledge and her delving into murky moral matters: who deserves to live? And who decides? Grace is an appropriately unreliable narrator, a once-desperate young woman who lured her rich husband away from his fiancée, and who commits a terrible crime.