Monday 12 June 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Last Lifeboat - Hazel

September 1940. 
In the immediate aftermath of a U-boat attack on an evacuee ship, one lifeboat of terrified  survivors endures a fierce storm in the Atlantic. 

May 1940. 
Four months earlier, two very different women – Alice King, a teacher, and Lily Nicholls, a young  widow- confront life-changing choices as Britain prepares for German invasion and the  devastating Blitz bombing raids begin. 

In Kent, Alice sees a chance to play a part in the war and volunteers as an escort on the ‘seavac’  ships; in London Lily faces the agonizing decision of whether to keep her children with her as  the Blitz begins, or send them to safety in Canada. 

The dramatic events of one fateful night in the mid-Atlantic, and the eight unimaginable days  that follow, bind the two women together in the most devastating way…

What did I think?

The Last Lifeboat should be printed with reinforced waterproof pages as I wasn't just virtually gripped, I was physically gripping the pages as I willed the survivors to hang on.  I was completely moved throughout and I was completely overcome with emotion as I turned the final page and audibly exclaimed: 'That was fantastic'.

This heartbreaking historical fiction novel is based on a true story and, although I had heard of children being evacuated to the countryside during World War II, I don't recall hearing about them being shipped to Canada, America and Australia.  Even more shocking then, is never learning about the sinking of the SS City of Benares by a German torpedo in the Atlantic.  Hazel Gaynor puts that right by bringing this haunting story to light.

I lived and breathed every second of this book and I felt a complete wealth of emotions as I experienced the war from various perspectives.  From the difficult decisions made by parents to send their children so far away to the fear of the nightly bombing and hoping that their children were safe.  It must have been so difficult for all concerned and it completely broke me as I experienced every emotion with them.

Devastatingly breathtaking, incredibly poignant and completely stunning, The Last Lifeboat is a beautiful written haunting novel that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page and dried your tears.  I will certainly never forget it and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes one of my most recommended books; I simply cannot recommend it highly enough.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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About the author:

Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Irish Times bestselling author of historical fiction, including her debut The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown award, and The Bird in the Bamboo Cage was shortlisted for the 2020 Irish Book Awards. She is published in twenty languages and twenty-seven countries. Hazel lives in Kildare with her family.

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