The Lifeboat is a daring and adventurous novel set just before the First World War. It begins in a courtroom, where an enigmatic young woman named Grace Winter is on trial; in flashback, we learn why . . .
I was to stand trial for my life. I was twenty-two years old. I had been married for ten weeks and a widow for six.
In the summer of 1914, the Empress Alexandra, a magnificent ocean liner, suffers a mysterious explosion on its voyage from London to New York City. On board are Henry Winter, a rich banker, and his young new wife, Grace. Somehow, Henry manages to secure a place in a lifeboat for Grace. But the survivors quickly realize it is over capacity and could sink at any moment. For any to live, some must die.
As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace watches and waits. She is a woman who has learned the value of patience - her journey to a life of glittering privilege has been far from straightforward. Now, she knows, it is in jeopardy, and her very survival is at stake.
Over the course of three perilous weeks, the passengers on the lifeboat plot, scheme, gossip and console one another while sitting inches apart. Their deepest beliefs about goodness, humanity and God are tested to the limit as they begin to discover what they will do in order to survive.
The Lifeboat is a page-turning story of moral dilemmas, and also the moving and haunting story of Grace, a woman as unforgettable and complicated as the story she recounts.
Charlotte Rogan graduated from Princeton in 1975. She taught herself to write between working at various jobs and bringing up triplets. Her childhood vacations with a family of sailors provided inspiration for THE LIFEBOAT, her first novel. She lives in Connecticut, US.