“From Cork to Rhode Island, can a young Irish girl find home… and herself?”
First off a huge thank you to Harper Collins Ireland for sending me a copy of The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter to read and review I truly enjoyed it.
The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter by Hazel Gaynor is such a beautifully heartbreaking book, within the first few chapters I was already being brought to tears. There is so much loss and sadness in this book but with that there is also love and strength, learning to be brave and have courage in the face of the unknown. The book is divided up between two timelines 1838 and 1938 and as the stories unfold we learn how they are connected and how past lives influence the future.
About The Book
“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.
What I Thought
This is a historical novel and the 1838 timeline story is inspired by actual events and the real life heroine Grace Darling – Heroine of the Farne Isles. I had to go and google her then of course but I suggest you don’t do this until after you have read the book, spoilers and all that.
Grace’s story while inspiring for being so brave and modest is also very sad, it didn’t work out for her the way I kept willing it to but sure such is life. Matilda (1938) now I loved how her story unfolded and perhaps its just as well that Grace’s story turned out as it did because her actions and her life greatly influenced Matilda and I was so grateful for the strength and courage that she gathered to carry out her life as she wanted and not to please others.
I realise I’m probably not being very clear but as always I don’t want to give anything away. While this book is weighted in sadness and I would advise you have some tissues and chocolate to hand ( Harper Collins Ireland very thoughtfully sent some chocolates with the book) it also lifted me, to see such strong women being portrayed and handing down mementos and lessons from mother to daughter it was encouraging. I have daughters myself and particularly liked this line from Harriet, “Men always think they have the answers.. They think they can invade whatever they like, countries, women’s bodies.. they thrive on the power it gives them, but they’re not as smart or strong as they think they are. If we go to war, the men will leave and it’ll be the women who’ll tend the lights and work the factories and do all the jobs they don’t think we’re capable of doing during peacetime. It was the same last time around.” Harriet is very independent and no one is going to tell her how to live her life.
Of course in the 1838 parts there is a lot of talk of being dutiful wives and daughters etc so it was good to see some progression in 1938 with women now in place as principal lighthouse keepers. I found the lighthouses themselves fascinating, the process of maintaining them and the highlighting of how important they are. I’ve always wanted to go inside one.
All around it was a beautifully written book and I thoroughly enjoyed delving back into the past. If you like historical fiction I suggest you read it. If you generally just love a great book I suggest you read it. If you just like to read I suggest you read it. And if you do read it please let me know what you thought ☺️
The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter by Hazel Gaynor will be available in paperback 6th September. As always all opinions are my own and I am not paid to give them.