AUTHOR: Hazel Gaynor
DATE FINISHED: March 7
BLURB: 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.
REVIEW: The blurb makes this book sound like a romance. It's not. Sure, there are some romance-y elements, but that's just one small facet of what it's about. This is a story about love - love for children, love for mothers, love for fathers, love for lighthouses, love for nature, love for the sea, and yes, love for a certain gentleman named George. It's charming and evocative, and I'm not embarrassed to admit I read the last few chapters with tears rolling down my cheeks. The author's voice is beautiful. More than once, I wished I had started logging all my favorite lines so I could save them for later. Yet, it was an easy read. It had just enough detail and clear delineations when it jumped back and forth between 1838 and 1938. Most of it is told in 1st person, but there are sections that are in 3rd. Some people might not like that, but it didn't bother me in the slightest. The characters were real and mesmerizing enough for me to get sucked in, even when at a couple points, a plot detail seemed a little too much. Still, I loved this book. The best one I've read all year so far, and most likely one of my favorites when the year's over.
SQUARE: Historical (fiction or non-fiction)