Book No 1 (2020) : The Lightkeeper’s Daughters

Here’s the thing, though. I may not have been blogging and my Insta feed is looking a bit neglected, but I have been reading!

First up this year was ‘The Lightkeeper’s Daughters‘ by Jean E. Pendziwol. As we know, I’m a sucker for books about lighthouses, seascapes, windswept coastlines and the like so from the blurb this seemed to hit the spot.

This novel has two story-lines, one contemporary and the other historical. Morgan is a troubled teenager who is given community service after she is caught spray painting. She’s put to work at a local care home for the elderly, where she makes the acquaintance of one of the residents, Elizabeth. The pair strike up an awkward friendship, each initially mistrustful of the other, although Elizabeth is always aware of the younger woman’s vulnerability. As Elizabeth’s sight is failing, Morgan takes on the job of reading aloud a set of journals, detailing Elizabeth and her twin sister Emily’s lives on Porphyry Island where their father was the lighthouse keeper. As the story of the twin’s background emerges, it becomes clear that Elizabeth and Morgan have a closer link than they realise.

I really wanted to love this book, as I usually do when there’s a pharological* aspect, but this failed to captivate me. I felt as if the dynamic between Elizabeth and Morgan was clichéd, and the plot twists piled in towards the end like a Springboks’ scrum in the dying minutes of a match – I got a bit confused about who was who. A bit of mystery is good, but the premise is based upon a huge coincidence. HUGE.

And to top it all, I discover Lake Superior isn’t even the actual sea. I tell you, there is no end to my disappointment.

(* disclaimer: this may not be a word, but a pharologist studies lighthouses and signal lights, so it seemed logical!)

Book No 39 (2014) : The Light Between Oceans

lighht between oceansLighthouses have fascinated me for years. In fact, I am such a lighthouse nerd that I subscribe to the Trinity House bulletin, so I can keep up with all the latest pharology news. Whilst all the other kids in my childrens’ classes swap stories of summer holidays in EuroDisney and Torremolinos, my offspring have had to put up with being dragged to beacons in remote areas of the UK. My favourite lighthouse porn is a slim volume entitled “Lighthouse Accommodation Britain and Worldwide” by Joy Adcock, which allows me to feed my habit, planning both real and imagined lighthouse journeys.

So with this interest, ‘The Light Between Oceans‘ would have to be a pretty awful book for me not to like it. I read it for a Book Group discussion and although I’d read it before, I didn’t have to have my Fresnel twisted to read it again.

Tom Sherbourne, returning from fighting in WW1, finds his way to Partageuse in Western Australia. Looking for a quieter life and time to heal, he accepts a posting as a temporary lightkeeper on Janus Rock, a remote rock lighthouse situated where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. Whilst on shore leave, he meets and marries Isabelle, a schoolteacher’s daughter who accompanies him to the island. Life seems idyllic, but the Sherbournes happiness is marred by the fact that Izzy seems unable to have children, and sadly suffers three miscarriages. One early-morning, a boat washes up on the island’s shore. Inside the boat are a dead man, and a crying baby. The discovery forces Tom and Izzy to make a momentous choice.

I have yet to meet anyone who has read this book and not liked it. The writing is engaging. examining a highly emotive and moral issue from all viewpoints. At one stage I was firmly on the side of one character, until the author flipped the narration, so I found myself siding with someone else. Now that the nights are drawing in, M.L.Stedman’s novel will really light up a dark evening.