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The Lifeboat

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The book for July was “The Lifeboat” by Charlotte Rogan and what a
disappointment it was. Turgid, derivative, totally lacking in pace,
characterisation or anything which might stimulate and keep the reader’s
interest other than a desperate desire to finish it out of a sense of duty to
the other members of the Book Club.
We do have an unspoken code that we do not discuss the book of the
month before we meet., so it was with a palpable sigh of relief that we
found that we had all had the same reaction of utter boredom and a
feeling of ploughing through a sludge of words. Some of us resorted to
setting a target of so many pages a day, rather like revision time on one’s
least favourite subject, when the sun is shining or a favourite TV show
The main trouble was that it did not ring true. The characters and their
actions have to be believable and the time line has to seem practical.
None of this happened. It helps if you can visualise a character or
empathise with him/her – even villains have to garner a grain of
sympathy or loathing but there was just ……nothing. We really could not
summon up the energy or interest or even remember anyone, other than
the narrator, who was so cold and obviously devoid of feeling for anyone
other than herself, and even then, we could not see her in our mind’s
In a desperate attempt to rescue something positive from the evening we
tried to discuss some of the questions of morality that we thought the
book might be attempting to raise, although we were unsure even about
these. So, if we were in an overcrowded lifeboat and an additional person
tried to climb on board, would we make room, even if it meant the
lifeboat might sink, or would we bash on his hands with an oar and make
him let go to drown? One person’s life over several? Faced with starving
to death would we eat the flesh of someone who had died in order to
survive? Should we tell the plain unvarnished truth at all times
irrespective of the consequences?
Do not believe the blurb on the jacket cover of this book nor the
“critiques” allegedly made by the great and the good of the literary
world. Hilary Mantell can write great historical novels but she has a very
strange sense of humour if, as claimed, she found this book “amusing,”

Author: Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat

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