The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home comes a historical novel inspired by true events, and the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers of the past two hundred years.
“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”
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.
Praise For The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter: A Novel…
— Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Alice Network
“Hazel Gaynor’s skillful artistry as a storyteller glitters like the sun...”
— Susan Meissner, New York Times Bestselling Author of As Bright as Heaven
“This is historical fiction at its finest.”
— Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece
“Gaynor has always been a better writer than her peers, and this exquisite, thoroughly researched book places her a clear head and shoulders above the rest.”
— Sunday Independent
“Gaynor’s narrative seamlessly flows between the eras and the women, chronicling their longing, their pain, and their quiet triumphs...Based on the real life of Grace Darling and two fierce storms, Gaynor’s tale is both heartbreaking and captivating.”
— Historical Novel Society
“...the many complicated women in it add a few more members to the women lighthouse keepers who perhaps, in their own small ways, lit the way for the women of today.”
— Book Riot
William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062698629, 416pp.
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
About the Author
Hazel Gaynor is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author. Her 2014 debut The Girl Who Came Home won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award, A Memory of Violets was a 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, The Girl from The Savoy was shortlisted for the 2017 Irish Book Awards, and The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter was shortlisted for the 2019 HWA Gold Crown Award. Last Christmas in Paris (co-written with Heather Webb) won the 2018 Women's Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Their most recent collaboration is Meet Me in Monaco. Hazel's forthcoming historical novel, When We Were Young & Brave, set in China during WW2, will be published in North America in October 2020.
Hazel was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. Her work has been translated into fourteen languages to date. She is co-founder of creative writing events The Inspiration Project, and lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.
For more information, visit www.hazelgaynor.com
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. What was your response to the opening scenes of the storm and the rescue, especially when Sarah Dawson left her children behind?
2. Despite her undoubted bravery and her part in the rescue of the Forfarshire’s survivors, Grace Darling was a reluctant heroine. What surprised you the most about her reaction to her fame?
3. Reading a novel based on real events can affect readers in different ways. Had you heard of Grace Darling before you read the novel? What is your reaction to her story?
4. Duty versus desire is one of the themes of the book. How did you respond when reading the scenes with Grace and George Emmerson? Do you feel Grace was right to deny her heart in order to devote her life to her family?
5. Sarah Dawson is the generational link between Grace and Matilda Emmerson. How did you respond to Sarah as a character in the novel?
6. The book touches on themes of separation, loss, and finding your place in life. In what ways did you relate to the various characters and their struggles?
7. The unique bond between parent and child, particularly mothers and daughters, is also explored through several of the characters in the book. Which relationships particularly resonated with you and why?
8. Do you enjoy reading books written in a dual narrative? Did you have a preference for one time line over the other? If so, why?
9. Matilda’s story reflects that of many unmarried pregnant girls in Ireland in the 1930s. What was your response to her journey from disgraced daughter to determined young mother?
10. As the final scenes in the hurricane unfolded, who were you rooting for and why?
11. Have you ever visited a lighthouse, or would you like to? What is it about lighthouses that fascinates us so much?
12. In many ways, this book is a celebration of women. Who is the most courageous woman you know and why?