To me, there is nothing like a well written, inspiring, historical fiction. It can and does move you into a realm where you are placed inside of a character, a place where for a time you live as they lived, a place where you feel a sense of kinship, of belonging, or coming together with what is good, courageous, and noble. This is what the book, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter did for me.
A book that inspires one is a treasure and this book written so beautifully about a young woman named Grace Dahling, who said of her bravery the following “They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.” Grace lived in and for the lighthouse in Northumberland, England. The Longstone Lighthouse was her family’s home, her place of solitude, a place that was often tumultuous based on the waves and the weather and a place where Grace during a horrific storm ventured out with her beloved father to save who they could from a shipwrecked vessel. She, a girl of the Victorian times, became famous for her bravery, a fame she shunned for all she loved and wanted was her place at the lighthouse.
In 1938, a young woman, Matilda Emerson, newly pregnant and not married is sent away to America in shame, to live with a relative, Harriet, who maintains a lighthouse on Rhode Island. Matilda is expected to give up her baby and return home to Ireland but the discovery of a half finished portrait of Grace sets her upon a journey of discovery and self knowledge.
Weaving these two stories together, Ms Gaynor, created a story that gave voice not only to the women who kept these lighthouses but also to those who have over time exhibited courage, fortitude, and a belief in their innate abilities. It was a story of motherly love, of love of time and place, of love for one’s place in the world. Beautiful language like the following…”I know that for all my shortcomings and imperfections, I have loved my children with the passion of a storm and that, in the end it is all that we can hope for. To have loved and been loved in return.” As a mother, I couldn’t agree more….
If you have not read this book, you need to especially if you are a mother, a caretaker, a believer in the strength of women, and a guide to those children entrusted to your care. I most heartedly recommend this book for its poignancy, its passion, and its respect for women who were heroes even if they never really thought they were.
Hazel Gaynor is a New York Times, USA Today and Irish Times bestselling, award-winning historical novelist, who lives in County Kildare, Ireland with her husband and two children. She has a new book coming out in 2019, Meet Me in Monaco set against the back-drop of the iconic wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier.