Can it ever be morally acceptable to sacrifice one life to save many? That is one of the questions you will find yourself considering as you read The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan. In the summer of 1914, Grace elopes with Henry Winter. After a stay in London the young couple is returning on an ocean liner to America to announce their marriage to Henry’s family. A mysterious explosion on board leads to the sinking of the ship. Henry sacrifices his own safety to secure a place on one of the lifeboats for Grace. There are 39 people on the lifeboat, and it becomes very clear early on that the boat is overcapacity.
As the story opens, Grace, as well as two other women from the lifeboat, is back in America and on trial for murder. Grace is writing down everything she remembers about the time at sea for her attorneys to help with her defense.
This book is a fast-paced read. I was hooked right away with Grace’s story and wanted to know what happened to the people on the lifeboat. I found the questions raised by the book intriguing. What kind of a person is Grace really? What options were available to women in the early 20th century? And, of course, there are all the moral questions raised by the disaster and the survivors’ reactions to the events as they unfolded. This is a good choice for a book group!