The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by @HazelGaynor #review @HarperCollinsUK

This is an epic novel spanning an entire century, 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 can see the sea from my living room window while I’m sitting reading. The evening I began reading this was typical Scottish spring weather: it was blowing a gale, freezing cold, pelting rain and the sea was all stormy. I can also see the lighthouse flashing on Inchkeith island which really added to the atmosphere of the story as I was reading of the Grace Darling’s courage in assisting with the rescue. I’m always interested in stories about Grace Darling as family legend has it that my husband’s side of the family is related to her. Sadly I’ve never been able to find any proof of this. He does have a great great great grandmother called Janet Darling but her family seem to have come from Ireland. You never know, they could be distantly related so there is always that element of what if it were true.

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 ways. 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.”

My thanks to the publishers Harper Collins for my review copy via Netgalley. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is available now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 30th May. You can order a Kindle copy here: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

From the back of the book

1838: when a terrible storm blows up off the Northumberland coast, Grace Darling, the lighthouse-keeper’s daughter, knows there is little chance of survival for the passengers on the small ship battling the waves. But her actions set in motion an incredible feat of bravery that echoes down the century.

1938: when nineteen-year-old Matilda Emmerson sails across the Atlantic to New England, she faces an uncertain future. Staying with her reclusive relative, Harriet Flaherty, a lighthouse keeper on Rhode Island, Matilda discovers a discarded portrait that opens a window on to a secret that will change her life forever.

About the author

Hazel Gaynor

Hazel Gaynor is an acclaimed New York Times, USA Today, Irish Times and internationally bestselling historical novelist. Her 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was an instant New York Times bestseller and won the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was a 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards. LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (co-written with Heather Webb) was a Globe and Mail bestseller and won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association STAR Award. THE COTTINGLEY SECRET was also a Kindle, Globe and Mail and USA Today bestseller. Hazel’s latest historical novel, THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER spent five weeks in the top 10 Irish Times bestsellers. In summer 2019 she will release her seventh novel, MEET ME IN MONACO, co-written with Heather Webb.

Hazel’s books are translated into nine languages and published in sixteen countries to date. She lives in Ireland, and is represented by Michelle Brower of Aevitas Creative Management, New York. 

For more information, visit 


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