Books have the capability to transfer us across time and space while still being in the present. You can go back thousands of years into an unknown future or centuries back, to the ancient times, all with the turn of a page. After all, there is a reason that even though technology has advanced so much, books have never gone obsolete. Today, we are here to discuss another read that transports us to the past but parallels it with the present that we live in to create an enticing book that is full of turmoil, strangeness, and hope. You can see the book here.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter By Hazel Gaynor
Hazel Gaynor is the author of the bestselling book The Girl Who Came Home, and The Girl From The Savoy, and in her latest offering, she presents us with a heroic tale of two women stuck in different points of time that are linked together by fate.
This is the kind of historical novel that makes you want to find out who your ancestors were and what kind of lives they lived, and if they were anything close to what you were expecting them to be. And if the lives your ancestors lived were anything close to the lives that the characters of this book have lived, then you’re in for quite an intriguing ancestry check. The book revolves around two women, Grace Darling, and Matilda Emmerson. We find ourselves first in the middle of the 19th century, when the SS Forfarshire finds itself along the rocks of Longstone Lighthouse, off the coast of Northumberland in 1838. Grace, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter, finds herself ridden with fame and celebrity when word is spread that she came to the aid of the survivors of the wreck and rescued them bravely.
She is astonished by the attention that she receives, with people wanting an actual piece of her with them, and teaming together to get a whiff of her perfume, steal a lock of her hair, or a bit of her skirt. This is a really interesting detail to notice. We live in an era where everyone has a smartphone and we keep tabs on our celebrities through the internet, but to read about the wild fervor with which Grace’s admirers flock after her, in an era before mass communication is intriguing, to say the least.
Amongst the people she rescues is the sole female survivor of the wreck, Sarah Dawson, who saw her children die before her eyes, in her arms. The relationship between the two women becomes even more intertwined when the author introduces Dawson’s brother as Darling’s love interest. Although all the romantic sequences are long drawn out and can be boring at times, it is interesting to witness the transformation of a woman who would have otherwise spent her entire life caring for her ageing parents, now finding herself at the center of attention of the general public and on the receiving end of the courtship Dawson’s brother pursues her with.
A century away, Matilda Emmerson finds herself stricken with changes, as she needs to move to Rhode Island from Ireland. The reason for this is that Matilda is pregnant at the age of 19 and she is unwed. Her father is a reputed politician and her mother is cold as ice, and for these reasons, the only solution they can find to the ‘problem’ that is Matilda’s pregnancy, is to send her away, across the ocean, to a relative’s home in America.
The entire book is a sweeping landscape of the time periods that these events are set in, and an intimate look into the lives of the women of these times. Faced with constant sickness, death, and tons of misogyny, these women mould their own lives by taking matters into their own hands. It is quite heartwarming to read about Matilda discovering that Grace is indeed her ancestor and that Grace and her life have a lot of similarities.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter Movie
There is also a movie of the same name which is quite different from the book discussed above but is quite an interesting piece of art that deserves mention and acclaim. Released in 1912, this movie is over a century old and is quite an experience to watch when we’re used to modern films with their over the top storylines and unreal cinematic effects. Directed by J. Searl Dawley, the film stars Charles Sutton, Laura Sawyer, Ben F. Wilson, and William R. Randall.
Here is IMDb’s summary of the movie:
“The old keeper of the lighthouse and his daughter have lived together peacefully year after year tending the lights on St. David’s Island. The old man has come to believe that his daughter’s after life will be spent near to him when she marries John West. Little they dream that the ways of a woman’s love must follow the dictates of her heart and when she steals away from the lighthouse and marries another man sadness falls upon those two who are left behind.
Six months later Jeannette bids her husband good-bye as he goes on a fishing voyage. The great ship never comes back, her heart grows weary of waiting and she returns to her old home. The dawn of a new hope is just about to break into bloom in the heart of John West when the lost husband is rescued from a lonely island and is brought back to his wife.”
A bestselling book that has won awards, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is well worth the read, even if it is a little too drawn out and slow at times. Recommended for people who like period dramas, feminism, and subtle romance and you can get your copy here.