The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor
One of my most anticipated reads of the year, The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter is historical fiction from an author that I love. Alternating timeframes one hundred years apart follow the stories of four women whose lives become intertwined. In 1838, we meet Grace, daughter of a lighthouse keeper who lives with her parents in a lighthouse off the rugged rocky coast of Ireland. During a storm, she shows extraordinary courage as she rows out with her father in unspeakable circumstances and rescues seven shipwrecked survivors, one of whom is Sarah. One hundred years later in 1938, Sarah's great great granddaughter, Matilda, is sent from Ireland to live in disgrace with a distant cousin in Rhode Island while her illegitimate pregnancy progresses. Her father's cousin, Harriet, is also a lighthouse keeper, and Matilda feels the pull of the sea and the light in her bones. She also feels the pull of Grace and Sarah as she learns their story, and finds as a storm comes her way, that the courage of her ancestors pulls her through.
Previous to this book, I'd never heard of the story of Grace Darling before, who became quite famous for her role in helping shipwrecked survivors in the midst of a terrible storm, but who hated the attention, and died young of consumption at just 26 years of age. Gaynor has yet again breathed a life and soul into a historical figure that the reader's heart deeply connects with, and has added a unique and beautiful aspect to the story by bringing in Matilda and Harriet's characters one hundred years later. She has them reach through time toward their ancestors and draw strength from them in an amazingly beautiful way. This easily goes down as one of my favorite books I've read this year, and I'd highly recommend it!
I, too, have a love for lighthouses and had the opportunity to visit a few. Here are pictures of two of my favorites, the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse in Santa Cruz, CA, and the Point Reyes Lighthouse in Point Reyes, CA. Both were gorgeous and a great place to explore, imagine, and have a picnic.