By Rob Glidden
The Southington Library has chosen “The Lifeboat” as the focus of the 2013 Big Read event, a novel by Connecticut novelist Charlotte Rogan that has enjoyed huge acclaim and success since its release last year.
Rogan’s debut novel was released in April of last year and climbed to the New York Times bestseller list shortly after. Library administrators loved the book and hoped the author’s proximity could work in their favor, but they were not sure Rogan would sign on.
“We’ve been so fortunate with these authors,” said Library Director Sue Smayda. “Usually, when someone is on the New York Times bestseller list, they’re not interested in talking to libraries. She said yes right away and we were thrilled.”
The novel chronicles the sinking of a fictional ocean liner and the aftermath when survivors crowd into a lifeboat that is too small for all of them. Everyone in the boat will drown unless some of the passengers take their chances in the freezing ocean.
According to a release from the library, Rogan was inspired to write the novel by a real-life incident in 1841 where a ship captain tossed twelve people overboard to save everyone else. The only reason the captain was tried for murder upon his return was because he had not used a lottery to determine who would drown.
Smayda and Library Publicist Jeanne Chmielewski said they were impressed by how the novel tackled tough ethical issues of survival and the greater good. In particular, they responded strongly to the character of Grace Winter, a 22-year-old widow with complex motivations.
“It’s been described as a great book for discussion groups because of all the issues involved,” Chmielewski said.
Rogan is set to speak about her novel at the Big Read event on March 20 at 7 p.m., held at the Aqua Turf Club. Registration for the event will begin on February 1. Copies of “The Lifeboat” are available at the library.
Rogan was unavailable for comment as of press time.
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By Rob Glidden