Sunday, June 25, 2023

BLOG TOUR - The Last Lifeboat

Title:  The Last Lifeboat
Author Hazel Gaynor
Publisher:  Berkley 
Genre:   Historical Fiction 
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   384
Date of Publication:   June 13, 2023
My Rating:   5 Stars 

In 1940, England is under siege by the Nazis. With men gone off to war, women, children, and the elderly are plagued by daily bombings and constant fear for their lives. Lily Nichols, a single mother living in London, believes that anywhere must be safer than here for her two young children. She applies for a risky evacuation program that would send her son and daughter overseas to Canada, following a long journey at sea.


Alice King, a shy and quiet librarian, can’t stand sitting still amidst the wartime suffering that surrounds her. To play her part in the war effort, Alice volunteers to serve as a chaperone who will sail overseas, accompanying children to safety abroad. 


When a Nazi U-boat torpedoes the ship with Lily’s children on board, a single lifeboat is left adrift in the storm-tossed Atlantic… and Alice becomes one mother’s only hope for her children’s survival. The story follows Alice’s harrowing eight days at sea, and Lily’s fight at home for her children to make it back to England alive.


Gaynor’s novel is inspired by true events. During WWII, the S. S. City of Benares set sail from England to evacuate 90 children to safety in Canada. When the ship was torpedoed by a Nazi submarine, hundreds died, including many children – and one lifeboat was left adrift at sea for eight days. One woman cared for six young boys aboard the lifeboat while they waited to be found. Gaynor was so moved by this story, and by the strength of this woman in the face of immediate peril and great despair, that she penned THE LAST LIFEBOAT, bringing this true historical moment to life through fiction.


Gaynor’s novel is perfect for fans of historical novels by Lisa Wingate, Kristin Hannah, Martha Hall Kelly, and Kristin Harmel. THE LAST LIFEBOAT serves as an uplifting reminder of the courage and altruism that we find in times of immense darkness.


World War II is underway and children were being sent away to other countries for their safety. Lily Nicholas had thought to keep her young children with her despite the perilous events surrounding them. However, bombing in England has become far too regular and she makes the decision to send her children to somewhere safe. 

Alice King has taken on the duties to escort children to different countries. When the ship that Alice and the others are on is torpedoed, those who survived are evacuated to lifeboats. Alice and a small group of children get on what is the last lifeboat. 

In this emotionally riveting story, readers see things from both Lily and Alice’s points of view. Lily is understandably anxious about the fate of her children and Alice is focused on keeping the children on her lifeboat safe with hopes of rescue. They have eight days of unspeakable horrors and danger while desperately awaiting rescue. 

What an incredible novel. Although this is a fictional story, by reading the author’s note at the end of the book, readers can see the amount of research that went into writing this compelling novel, as well as the history of the true events with the organization that got over 20,000 children out of London during the war. 

Many thanks to Berkley and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today, Globe and Mail and Irish Times bestselling historical novelist. Her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, was awarded the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year, and her novels have been shortlisted for the 2016 and 2020 Irish Book Awards, the 2019 HWA Gold Crown Award, the 2020 RNA Historical Novel of the Year and the 2021 Grand Prix du Roman Historique. Her latest novel, WHEN WE WERE YOUNG & BRAVE/THE BIRD IN THE BAMBOO CAGE was a national bestseller in the USA and an Irish Times bestseller. 

Hazel’s co-written novels with Heather Webb - LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, MEET ME IN MONACE and THREE WORDS FOR GOODBYE have all been published to critical acclaim, winning and being shortlisted for several international awards. 

Hazel was selected as a 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors. She is published in twenty-five territories and her books have been translated into eighteen languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children and is represented by Michelle Brower of Trellis Literary Management, USA.

For more information, visit
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