Customer Review

138 of 156 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What was the point?, April 12, 2012
This review is from: The Lifeboat: A Novel (Hardcover)
While I had hoped for a more intense story about the dynamics of people unknown to each other being placed in peril on a lifeboat, this turned out to be a strangely dispassionate narrative from only one person's perspective. Because that person was selfishly passive about her circumstances, and so easily manipulated if she thought there was something in it for her, we learn almost nothing about the other passengers. Everything is filtered through Grace's shifting perceptions. Grace is a seriously flawed person, and that usually offers literary opportunity for growth. But Grace's flaws were with her before the lifeboat, remained with her throughout the time on the sea, and her trial, and she came out the other side essentially unchanged. There is a lot of discussion of the ethics and morality of lifeboat survival, mixed with strong undercurrents of the gender politics of a century ago. None of this gave life to any of the characters and I found no one to root for or have any serious curiousity about. There were many loose ends left unresolved, showing them to be no more than red herrings and filler. The book ended with a shrug.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 16, 2012 8:40:26 AM PDT
LillyandGish says:
I'm sure I would see it like you do as I'm a very demanding reader. Thank you for the review. I've saved my money and my time on this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 16, 2012 9:45:17 AM PDT
JLF says:
Glad to be of help. BTW, I love your name. :-)

Posted on Apr 21, 2012 4:42:44 PM PDT
Audiodoc says:
Yes I'm a very discerning reader as well. And after reading your review it seems as though this book would be a disappointment. Thanks for saving me some money and wasted time.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 7:59:43 PM PDT
JLF says:
It seems that the earliest reviews were from readers who loved the book, but the more recent returns seem to have felt there was something lacking in the character development and unresolved storylines. I guess it all depends on what you look for in a book.

Posted on May 2, 2012 9:34:01 AM PDT
Finished the book last night for book club. At the end all I felt was confusion tinged with anger. Your review helped clarify how I felt and why. Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 11:00:32 PM PDT
JLF says:
I'm glad if my review offered some help. I'm sorry (for both of us) that the book was a disappointment. I love well told stories so much, that when I invest time in one that is not well constructed, I can't help feeling a bit cheated.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 12:32:11 PM PDT
impanky says:
Gender politics of a century ago. No, gender politics of 2012. Good review though.

Posted on May 16, 2012 8:34:16 AM PDT
Beth says:
I felt much the same way. While I enjoyed reading the book, I felt unsatisfied at the end. I wanted to see an interaction between her and her in-laws. They paid for her lawyer, didn't they? Did I miss the part where they met?

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 2:55:00 PM PDT
JLF says:
No you didn't miss it. It was just one of many dangling plot lines that were never resolved.

Posted on May 17, 2012 10:03:59 AM PDT
Kokopelli says:
JLF,

I was carried away by the early reviews and also the subject matter, which is, of course, endlessly fascinating, like stories of the Donner Party. But I just finished the book and the closer I got to the end, the less I cared. I completely agree with your review. I would add, however, that, IMO, the writing was beautiful and rather old-fashioned, similar to 19th Century novels. I'm not sorry I read it, and I don't feel the time of reading was wasted, but it was definitely a disappointment.
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