Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Review: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
by Hazel Gaynor

Paperback: 416 pages
 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks 

From The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home comes a historical novel inspired by true events, and the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers of the past two hundred years.

“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.

My Rating: 

Favorite Quotes:

“Mam was at her snoring again. Thought it was the cannons firing from Bamburgh to signal a shipwreck.” He opens one eye. “Don’t tell her I said that.”

I’ve seen how often women marry and become less of themselves, like scraps of pastry cut away and reused in some other, less important way.

She is utterly in thrall of him and I am ashamed to feel a prick of jealousy as I observe her, knowing she will never look at me that way. Daughters never hold their mother’s affection the way their sons do. Daughters are dutiful, dependable and disposable. Sons are brave and admirable, essential to the continuation of the family line.

But it isn’t just her face he can’t forget. It’s the particular sense of purpose and determination that dripped from her like honey from a spoon. So slender in form and yet so immense in personality and character.

She gazes up at me with eyes the color of winter seas and I see in her some greater wisdom; as if she understands that she is not just my daughter, but the sum of generations of strong courageous women who came before her, an echo of them all lingering in her soul.

My Review:

It wasn’t until I had finished reading that I noticed that this epic and poignant book was based on true events, and while I was already impressed by the artistry and quality of the book, that little nugget just blew me away.  The writing was beautifully rendered, lushly detailed, and emotively crafted to hit all the feels.  The storylines were complex and well woven, yet felt authentic from beginning to end.  I cannot imagine the massive amount of research required for such an undertaking.  I – am - in - awe.  

Empress DJ

About Hazel Gaynor

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from the Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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