The Last Lifeboat

Books on Tape. Jun. 2023. 10:28 hrs. ISBN 9780593684221. $85.50. F
Two women fight to keep hope alive in Gaynor’s (When We Were Young & Brave) latest, set in 1940s Britain as bombs begin falling on London. With the nation mobilizing for action, Lily Nichols makes the difficult decision to evacuate her two children to Canada through the Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB). Teacher Alice King, a newly hired CORB support volunteer, is put in charge of Lily’s children. When the ship on which they’re traveling is torpedoed by a German submarine, Alice and the children are forced into a lifeboat to battle for survival for days on end as they make their way toward land. Narrator Billie Fulford-Brown provides a luminous performance, tapping into the characters’ range of emotions, from Lily’s uncertainty and fear to Alice’s determined positivity and generosity. Fulford-Brown’s depiction of Lily receiving a letter informing her of the attack is piercingly sad, powerfully portraying the courage and deep love of a mother caught in unthinkable circumstances.
VERDICT Based on true events, this emotionally resonant historical novel is both sobering and inspiring. For those who enjoyed Laura Spence-Ash’s Beyond That, the Sea or Gloria Goldreich’s The Paris Children.
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