Recently I attended the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia with a couple of my co-workers (thank you, library trustees!) One of the sessions I attended was a panel of a few of this spring’s debut authors, and I was able to bring home copies of each of their books. I want to tell you about one of them now – The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan.
It is 1914 and newlyweds Grace and Henry Winter are returning from a trip to Europe when there’s an explosion aboard their ship. Henry helps Grace onto a lifeboat before disappearing on the deck of the ship and Grace finds herself with 37 other survivors watching the ship disappear under the surface of the sea. She has no idea if Henry made it onto one of the other lifeboats or went down with the ship, but assumes rescue will come soon to her overly crowded boat.
In fact it is three weeks before rescue finally arrives, during which time the number of survivors has dwindled from illness, suicide, voluntarily lightening the load, and not-so-voluntarily lightening the load. After their rescue, Grace and two other women find themselves on trial for murder.
This exciting and beautifully written novel is filled with many ethical questions. Is it wrong to cause someone else’s death to save your own life? What if their survival means doom for many more people? The complex characters grapple with these and other moral quandaries throughout the story, making this an excellent pick for book groups.
The Lifeboat is being released next week and I predict it will be popular, so put yourself on hold now!