Friday 31 May 2019

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

Finished May 29
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

This historical fiction novel follows two women one hundred years apart. In 1838, in Northumberland along the coast of England, Grace Darling lives with her parents and younger brother in a lighthouse. Her father is a lighthouse keeper, and her brother will take on the role after him. Meanwhile Grace does a lot of the work of the lighthouse to assist. When a bad storm hits while her brother is on the mainland, and Grace spots a wreck on a nearby island, she and her father row out to save any survivors. One of the survivors is Sarah Dawson, who was on the ship headed to visit her brother George Emmerson, an artist. Grace has met George briefly, but felt a connection with him that surprised her.
Grace's role in the rescue brings her attention and notoriety, none of which she wants. She is compelled into answering letters, sitting for portraits and other unwanted tasks, until a local lord and his wife take her under their wing and protect her from some of the less savoury attentions.
In 1938, Matilda Emmerson is sent from England to Rhode Island to stay with a distant family member she's never heard of before, Harriet Flaherty, a lighthouse keeper. Matilda has become pregnant and her parents are trying to hide this from the society they move in.
Gradually Matilda and Harriet grow close and Harriet shares with her some of the family history, including that of the locket that Matilda wears around her neck, and the book of instructions on keeping a lighthouse.
I liked the parallels of the two women's stories, and the connections made over the years.


  1. I'm always drawn to books with a lighthouse setting. There's just something romantic about the idea of living in a lighthouse. :)

  2. Me too Lark. I also like memoirs of lighthouse keepers and have read a couple (one British, one Canadian)