In The Lifeboat, we meet Grace Winter who is standing trial alongside two other women for an unspecified crime in the 1910's. Via flashback it transpires that Grace Winter survived the sinking of the Empress Alexandra and got away on a lifeboat just in time.
In the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic, there are obvious and most likely deliberate comparisons to be drawn between the actual disaster and this fictional one, though the Titanic itself is referred to as a prior tragedy known to these fictional victims.
I really liked this fresh angle on such events which usually focus on the run up to or the actual disaster itself. As far as I know focusing a full story on those who got away has not been done before, and so has something new to add and say.
The characterisation is very well done, from fearsome but necessary sea dog Hardie, to Mrs Grant: mother hen or puppet master? to Grace Winter herself, is she fragile and suggestible or is she made of hard steel under a soft appearance?
Though the setting of the book and the characters is really unusual, there are unfortunate but not total similarities to the third act of Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch. There is a difference though, whilst Jaffy and Tim were young sailors shipwrecked, these survivors are largely upper class women, who throng together to survive, but, are they just doing the best they all can or has evil sprung up in their midst?
A good, original, well written debut piece 9/10