The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book!

It is a very well researched and elegantly written story inspired by true events. The characters are well drawn and the writing sublime.

This is the first book I have read by Hazel Gaynor but it definitely won't be the last.

 I highly recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction.
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This was a solid 3 star read for me. There is nothing earth shattering about the narrative technique in fact I think the weaving of 2 separate timelines to tell 2 separate but related stories has become commonplace nowadays, that said I liked the characters in both timelines and the way their shared history is weaved together through family heirlooms.

The main focus of this story is a real life lighthouse keeper's daughter called Grace Darling who rose to fame in 1838 when she and her father rescued shipwrecked survivors during a fierce storm, the fact that she was a woman lead to huge public interest in the story and for a while Grace became the centre of her own storm of fame. Gaynor uses this dramatic woman and the stories surrounding the real life rescue to create her fictional family.

Gaynor successfully weaves the real life facts of Grace's life into her narrative and creates a warm and sympathetic character that the reader can believe in. Grace's family and friends also feel like real people and the detail with which lighthouse life is described almost made me long for my own island with only family and a Kindle for company. Then reality hit and I thought great in summer not so good in winter.

For me Grace's story was the real draw of the book the secondary storyline felt like it had been added to give some extra colour and personally I don't think this extra colour was required. While I don't feel this secondary narrative was necessary to the book it did still manage to tug at my heartstrings and it did allow the introduction of other historical female lighthouse keepers to show that while Grace may be one of the most famous there were other women doing the same thing in other places.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, who has an interest in lighthouses and anyone who enjoys a good family saga, just have the tissues handy.
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In 1838 a dreadful storm occurs on the Northumberland coast. The paddle steamer Forfarshire fell victim to the storm and Grace Darling and her Lighthouse Keeper father battled the elements and rescued the survivors. Grace becomes celebrated throughout all of England and farther afield. Her bravery also brings her closer to George, whose sister is one of the survivor, an artist who captures both her character and her heart.In 1938 Matilda Emmerson is sent to America to stay with her relative, Lighthouse Keeper, Harriet Flaherty. Matilda discovers a portrait that links to her past and unearths secrets that have a profound effect on her future.I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I look forward to reading much more from Hazel Gaynor. I am, without question, a fan of her work.
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This is an epic novel spanning an entire century and inspired by the courage of Grace Darling and one of those she saved from the wreck of the Forfarshire in 1838, Sarah Dawson. In 1938, Matilda is also drawing on her courage and crossing the Atlantic to face the unknown staying with her distant relative Harriet Flaherty. Harriet is also a lighthouse keeper on Rhode Island and Matilda will find she is linked to all the women in more ways than she could imagine.

I have a real fascination for lighthouses which always seem to be such romantic places. I wonder how did people survive the solitary, repetitive life, particularly those stationed in remote islands. They must have been very disciplined to stop themselves from going mad. Hazel Gaynor describes the way of living in a lighthouse so well from the physical layout, to the dedication of the keepers and their families and the necessary routines to keep the lights functioning.

But is it the women who are at the centre of this story. Four courageous women who are all brave in their own individual ways. Lighthouses are what links them all, beacons of light and hope in the darkness. Lighthouses can stand alone and strong, battling everything thrown at them and so do these women. I loved this book which showed the strength and resilience of the four women. Hazel Gaynor has written a superb book shining a light on the compelling story of Grace Darling in a new way and linking the women in unexpected way. I found this such a compelling read, the best kind of historical fiction. A wonderfully crafted story of love and loss, courage and hope.

“In the end, the only person we can truly rely on is ourselves.”
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I was given a copy of The Lighthouse Keepers daughter by Hazel Gaynor in exchange for an honest review. 
The book is set in the 1830's and the 1930's. It is based around true events of Grace Darling who lived in a lighthouse with her family and rescued passengers from a shipwreck during a storm. Matilda is sent to a lighthouse to stay with a relative and finds the picture of Grace Darling and begins to find out more about the heroine and how they were connected.
This book is well written and explains about Grace and her family and how the cared for the lighthouse. I liked the characters and enjoyed the mystery within the book.
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This beautiful compelling book centres around two main characters and timelines. I loved how I got a glimpse of one character and their life before being transported to the other. The authors gift of connecting each timeline was wonderful, the shared history, lighthouses, necklace and a painting were fantastic and in the final chapters the way they came together was like finding the missing pieces of my favourite jigsaw puzzle. 

1838 - Grace Darling is the daughter of the keeper of Longstone Lighthouse in Northumberland. During a horrific storm along with her father rescue survivors from the Forfarshires disaster. Among the survivors is Sarah Dawson who Is travelling to visit her brother George who Grace has previously met and been attracted to.  Grace is strong woman who puts her duty before her heart. She is instantly idolised for her heroism but her love for the peaceful lighthouse life means she struggles with the unwanted attention . 

1938- Matilda is unmarried 19 years old and pregnant. As this is considered shameful in her native Ireland she has been sent to stay with a family relative in Rhode Island , America. Her discovery of a painting sets her on the path to uncover family history and secrets which have been hidden. 

I loved the descriptions of lighthouse life and the struggles encountered by our ancestors compared to our lives today. I had heard of Grace Darling but having read this book her name is definitely etched in my heart. Many things have changed from the timelines in this book but loss, friendship, family, loyalty. Separation, and finding your place in life remains relative and unchanged through generations . 

This book will stay with me for a long time. It’s enchanting storyline and fantastic characters have left me spellbound. Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures it should definitely be on your TBR list. I live near a lighthouse and I will now think of the strong woman in this book when I see it.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for my chance to read this breathtaking novel.


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If I asked you who Grace Darling was you would probably be able to give me a sketchy idea of lifeboats, saving people and lighthouses. That was extent of my knowledge without a book or google to hand to fill in the details.

This book whilst fictionalising the story of Grace did something else for me. It filled in huge gaps in my knowledge of the event, of the way lighthouses work, the life that was led by these families and more importantly where women stood in the hierarchy of such things.

1938, Rhode Island,America.  Matilda Emmerson has been sent to stay with a distant relative, she has disgraced her good family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The distant relative happens to be a lighthouse keeper and there Matilda starts to come to terms with her subsequent pregnancy and starts to learn a lot about her past. Even down to why she was called Matilda.

100 years previous and Grace Darling spots the Forfarshire in trouble and assists her father in the rescue of some survivors. In the days before social media and instant celebrity, the speed in which everyone knew about Grace is staggering for its time. Boat tours went past the lighthouse in calmer weather to get a glimpse of her and people wanted literally a piece of her. Locks of hairs, portraits it seemed these were the 'selfies' of the day. Grace is very humble about what she has done and sees no reason for the attention which is brought to herself, her family and the lighthouse. She remembers that lives were lost and the families that were destroyed.

A book with strong female characters, some of them initially not that likeable until you start to realise the circumstances in which they are surviving. It is not only other people's actions and emotions that can affect you. Your surroundings, the landscape can have detrimental effect to; the sea can tear them apart, keep them separate, can show you the truth and it can shape your life forever.

If you like historical fiction and want something different, then this is certainly the book for you.

A worthy and worthwhile read.
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A sweeping, beautiful story that kept me hooked all along,  My first by this author and not my last.
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I was particularly interested about this book because it is partly about Grace Darling, a real person who, according to family history, is my distant relation.

The book switches between two times.
In 1838 Grace is the daughter of the keeper of the Longstone lighthouse, and becomes a national hero, when she and her father row out in a great storm and rescue the survivors of a ship, the Forfarshire, which had sunk.
Very little is known of her short life after this, and the story in the book is based on reports of the time, and an attempt to understand how an independent-minded Victorian woman coped with fame, and what it did to her. There was also a romantic interest introduced.

In 1938 Matilda Emmerson, pregnant, is sent from Ireland to a distant cousin, Harriet Flaherty who is a lighthouse keeper in Rhode Island. 
As Matilda and Harriet find a way to understand each other, family secrets are uncovered, and the connection to events in 1838 becomes clearer, as well as the sadness that lies at the centre of Harriet’s life.

I enjoyed the book, and the way the connections emerged.
The developing relationship between Matilda and Harriet was beautifully described, and the similarities of life in a lighthouse in the 1800s and 1900s were brought to life.
What I found uncomfortable were some elements of Grace’s story, which, as the author says, was pure conjecture.
 I would have enjoyed it more if all the characters were fictional.

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for the opportunity to read this book.
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What a stunning beautiful read. The enchantment of the lighthouse, richly described and a full love story. Fully recommend
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A good story linking two lives in different eras.  I did know a little about Grace Darling but it was great to have more details. How brave she was!  A good retelling of that, mixed with a new story set in America.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC
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This is an absolutely delightful book.  It tells the story of Grace Darling, (with some liberal romantic interpretation), interspersed with another tale set 100 years later.  Both stories are very moving, and the whole book is beautifully written.  The characters come alive, and the descriptions are excellent:  you can almost smell the sea!
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A beautiful story of love and loss.
The two main stories interweave extremely well, even though they are one hundred years apart, and it kept me engaged throughout. 
This book is a gorgeous, uplifting, and magical book that you will definitely need the tissues for. It will have you hooked from the start. 
It shows how the past often shapes the future and the inner strength that women can find within themselves when faced with tragedy.
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From its dramatic opening few chapters, I could tell The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter was going to be a book I couldn’t put down. Based on real life heroine Grace Darling, the novel begins with Grace’s courageous rescue of the surviving passengers of the stricken Forfarshire paddle steamer which struck upon a rock near the Longstone Lighthouse in Northumberland, of which Grace’s father was the keeper.

This is a dual-timeline novel – so while the portion set in 1838 follows Grace’s rise to fame following the Forfarshire disaster, we are also introduced to Matilda Emmerson, who is travelling from Ireland to Rhode Island in 1938 to have a child out of wedlock. Each of the protagonists had a distinct voice which I connected to – but occasionally other points of view were brought in, which led to a bit too much jumping around and flitting between first and third person narrative for my liking.

Grace and Matilda’s stories do intertwine as the plot progresses – but the two women are linked throughout by their courage, and their love of the sea. Nature is definitely its own character in this novel, and Hazel Gaynor successfully conjures up some truly exquisite imagery of the landscape surrounding the lighthouses both in Northumberland and Rhode Island which I adored reading.

There are brief moments of romance in each of the timelines, but by far the primary theme of the novel is the strength of both Grace and Matilda as they defy the customs of their respective time periods. They were such inspirational characters to read about, heightened by the fact that Grace Darling was a real person, and her brave rescue actually did take place. I always love novels where the author explores the ‘real person’ behind a famous figure in history, and Hazel Gaynor did it so well here.

I will admit that I was more invested in Grace’s story than that of Matilda’s; although each character’s narrative was followed fairly equally, in all honesty I would have been perfectly happy reading an entire novel based on Grace alone. Nevertheless, I felt satisfied with the ending to Matilda’s story, and profoundly moved by Grace’s.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter definitely made me fall in love with Hazel Gaynor’s writing, and I hope to pick up another of her novels soon!
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A stunning read.   The story follows Grace in 1838 and Matilda in 1938.  A connection from a tragedy when Grace saves lives at sea while assisting her father the Lighthouse Keeper.  Two different, strong, defiant women generations apart with fantastic stories.  I loved the setting and the based on truth story for Grace.  These people were amazing living in the most remote and hostile situations.  There is heartbreak, friendship, love and tragedy  A truly wonderful book.
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Based on true events, The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter, weaves the extraordinary story of Grace Darling, who along with her father, helped to save survivors of a ship wreck, during a great storm in 1838.
Grace lives with her family at Longstone Lighthouse, Northumberland, where her father works as the lighthouse keeper. After the events of the great rescue, Grace has to deal with both fame and fortune, which brings her untold sadness and grief.
The threads of the events along with the connection to Grace, sets the scene for another timeline in the story, this time Newport, Rhode Island during 1938. Harriet a lighthouse keeper decides to allow a distant relative, Matilda, who is pregnant and unwed, to come and stay. 
Upon discovering a Victorian sketch of a woman, hidden in an old trunk in the lighthouse, Matilda makes it her mission to find out, who both the artist and the lady are, and how they are linked to her family.
The two stories flow so well together, with amazing and totally believable characters. This is a beautiful and poignant story full of both joy and sadness and leaves you thinking about the events, well after the book has ended.
I just reviewed The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor. #NetGalley 
[NetGalley URL]
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Family saga set a hundred years and thousands of miles apart. Really interesting story featuring some very strong ,brave women and lighthouses. Very descriptive and enthralling.
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This is a story in two timelines in 1838 Grade Darling is 22 and living in a lighthouse on the Farne Islands in Northumberland.  On the night of a fierce storm Grace and her father rescue survivors from a shipwrecked boat and in doing so Grace becomes a celebrity, but one of the people Grace rescues is the brother of a celebrated artist who Grace has already met and felt a connection with.  In 1938 in Ireland 19 year old Mathilda becomes pregnant and is sent away in disgrace to Rhode Island to stay with a distant relative Harriet, who is a lighthouse keeper, and while sorting through a chest finds an unfinished portrait of a woman, intrigued she sets out to find out about this woman. 

A great book,  I had heard the name Grace Darling but didn't know her story, both timelines were equally interesting and it is definitely a book I would recommend.
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Adored this book. The switching between the two narratives was very well done and the characters were excellent.
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Growing up I used to live in Northumberland so Grace Darling was a heroine we heard about often in our local history lessons. I have also had the privilege of going on a trip out to the Farne Islands so can picture the location for that portion of the account. I loved the way that Hazel, the author has taken other true historical references and used them to create a broader tale around the most known event of Grace Darlings rescue. Despite the tragic references, this book is not a difficult read and would be suitable for younger readers (teenage). I really enjoyed the story and would recommend it.
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