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"When I was a law student I used to enjoy reading those gruesome Victorian shipwreck cases in which survivors are tried for murder after eating the cabin boy. I thought there was a novel in them, and Charlotte Rogan has (more or less) fished it out. "The Lifeboat" deals with an Atlantic shipwreck in 1914, and the narrative is in the hands of the unscrupulous Grace, who survives, but finds herself forced to explain how she has done it. It is an accomplished and smart first novel, which plays with narrative and moral ambiguity to gripping effect."
Hilary Mantel, "Globe Books", The Globe & Mail, Saturday, December 29, 2012.
Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. However, cooler heads prevail, with Garrett (Cronyn) and columnist Connie Porter (Bankhead) asserting the German's prisoner of war status, and he is allowed to stay.
One passenger, an infant, dies almost immediately after boarding. His mother is a young English woman (Angel), who, after being treated by a nurse (Anderson), must be tied down to stop her from hurting herself. The woman sneaks off the boat while the other passengers sleep, drowning herself in the night.
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“Where there is love there is life.”
“People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”
“You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
“But better to be hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.”
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
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