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The story opens with Grace who, at 22, is not only newlywed, but also a widow and now on trial for murder. As part of her defence she writes a daily journal of the events of the days preceding “the murder”, and what she believes happened during that summer in 1914 when the liner on which she was travelling from Europe to the USA with her newly married husband sank.

Most of the novel takes place on the lifeboat which Grace joined and is a gripping account of survival and what we might all do to survive. History shows or lets us believe that men will kill to survive, but the book asks how far women will go. Grace is like a new acquaintance, you are never confident that you will like her or even believe her but you want to.

Even though you know some of what has happened and that she is rescued, you are pulled along in the story to find out how she ended up on trial and who survived from the lifeboat. Even in small groups there will always be a leader, a dominant personality; is it okay to abstain from proceedings or is dong so actually to be part of the decision making? This book does ask lots of questions of the reader and will be a good choice for reading groups.

A great book, perfect for the year of the Titanic anniversary and an ideal choice read for fans of good fiction. Longlisted for Guardian First Book Award 2012

Virago 9781844087525 £12.99

Sheila O’Reilly

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