Hazel Gaynor comes to the blog today with a lovely story told in two timelines from two eras: Victorian and pre-World War II. Please read on for my review of
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
Separated by a century and thousands of miles, 22 year old Grace Darling and 19 year old Matilda Emmerson are both inexorably linked by a locket, portrait and book: their stories tied by chance and fate are infused with history of the time. Grace Darling has lived all of her life in the lighthouse, a steady helpmate to her mother and father in the house and with the responsibility of the light. While her other siblings have left for the mainland, marriage and positions of their own, Grace has maintained her helpmate status with the light, trimming wicks, carrying oil, polishing, cleaning and keeping watch from her exalted position in the air. Constantly collecting shells and watching the birds, seals and ships, spending time in deep discussions with her father or helping her mother with the house. Life is simple and quiet, just how she likes it. A sentiment she reinforces regularly with visits to ‘the main’, a quick row from her lighthouse perch.
Matilda Emmerson is 19 and in disgrace: she’s pregnant and a life that was focused on the ‘show’ with her father a prominent local politician in Ireland. Raised with a level of wealth and status, Matilda’s relationship with her mother is always strained, never more so now that she’s turned up pregnant and won’t name the father. Not quite a love match, Matilda is being sent to a previously unheard of distant cousin in Rhode Island until her return to the family fold. A ticket on a transatlantic ship with a chaperone hand-chosen by her mother – and she’s off to the unknown. Meeting distant cousin Harriet in Newport, the secrets and Harriet’s brusque and ‘ask no questions’ attitude have piqued her interest more than ever. Meeting the artist and assistant lighthouse keeper gives her a friend who listens, an uncomplicated flirtation that has its roots in the life of Harriet and her time before Matilda arrives. And an old chest at the home in the foot of the lighthouse provides stories of the past, holding answers that will later be important.
Told in 2 perspectives from the 1800’s and one from the 1900’s, the tales of Grace Darling and Matilda are inexorably tangled together: a locket from Grace being held and worn by Matilda providing a link to her history and the women who, when men were at war or needed support, worked to keep the lights burning. Not a story that is quick moving, but beautifully written as the links from past to present come into focus, questions, secrets and great storms, some one hundred years apart become the connection point to these women, allowing their determination, desire for self-direction in a time when it was unheard of, and a journey of self-discovery for a young Irish immigrant as she connects with her past, self and family. Beautifully written with inclusions of historic fact and people, descriptions of views and isolation from the tower view of the lighthouse, and shows how the time alone with thoughts and tasks provide a way to better understand yourself and your place – the story moves quietly. Each new moment adding another layer to the overall impression and emotional climax to Matilda’s story: tossed through an epic storm that will fix the newly adopted changes in her life into a foundation to move on.
Title: The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Genre: Dual Timeline, Family Saga, Historic Woman's Fiction, Pre World War II, Romantic Elements, Setting: American, Setting: Britain, Victorian
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 9 October, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 10 Hours: 27 minutes
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“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”
1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.
1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: