I’ve been a huge fan of Hazel Gaynor for quite some time and when I saw this book was being released last year, I couldn’t wait and had it no my pre order for months!
It arrived and all the reviews were outstanding and I couldn’t wait to crack it open…..and then I just didn’t. I don’t know why but it just never seemed like the right time to read it.
As many of you know, I got hooked on Audible earlier this year and have been using it as a tool to supplement my reading. I only listen when I am running errands and if I get really into the book, I pick up a physical copy and keep reading but mostly my ‘reading’ of audiobooks is done in the car.
I decided to download this one and see if I could finally make some headway on a book that had been on my TBR for far too long in my opinion!
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 (summary from Goodreads).
I absolutely love lighthouses. I think they are fascinating and horribly romantic and a book like this really appealed to me if for no other reason than I thought the lighthouse element sounded captivating. As I started reading, I was thrilled to learn that Grace Darling’s story is based on an actual person and the Forfarshire shipwreck was an actual shipwreck. When I started reading this book, I stopped to do a little research on Longstone Lighthouse, mostly to just get a visual of the place and found that it was indeed the inspiration for this story. That immediately endeared this book to me.
The author did a great job balancing lighthouse service history and the story of Grace Darling, while I didn’t necessarily love Grace in the end, I did love Matilda. I felt that Grace was so fearless and indeed she was a ‘storm’ as Sarah described her in the book, but toward the end I felt as though she became more of a breeze. I understand the reasons that Grace had for the choices she made especially in regards to her romantic life, but I couldn’t help but hope for something a little more. In the end I enjoyed her but she wasn’t the fire of the story for me—-Matilda was.
Matilda was my absolute favorite. She was brave, bold, and even if she had no idea where her life might lead, she was definitely not afraid to take chances and make big decisions. I absolutely loved her and couldn’t wait to get back to her story at each opportunity. While there are hints in this book of romance, it isn’t the focus of this novel surprisingly. The focus remains on the women and their lives formed by their choices. I thought the author did a marvelous job showcasing and contrasting both Grace and Matilda.
I am so sad that I waited so long to read this one because it was incredibly good. In a way I had hoped for more romance but in the end I was satisfied with the story of the two women instead and I was fascinated by the history of lighthouses!