Thursday, November 6, 2014

Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore

Aged 34, stuck in a job she no longer feels rewarding, Londoner Ellen Trawton is also feeling the lifelong constraints of her mother's domineering nature tighten to a chokehold.  Leaving a vague note behind saying that she has taken some time to herself before her marriage to aristocrat William, Ellen flees to a coastal village in Ireland, the one place Ellen is sure her mother will never look for her.
Maddie, Ellen's mother, grew up in that village, left when she married and never went back.  In fact, Ellen knows nothing about the family of uncles and cousins there.  Only be searching out her mom's hidden drawer full of unread Christmas letters from a mysterious Aunt Peg, does Ellen find out about Ballymaldoon.  Perhaps she can hide out there, try her hand at writing the novel she's always dreamed about, straighten out her life (escape her marriage to a man she doesn't love) and learn why her mother has kept her past a secret.  With days of arriving, Ellen feels she has found home, despite the village's remoteness.  Aunt Peg's quiet ways and exuberant family make Ellen feel like she belongs. Readers will connect with the charm of the life Ellen is discovering and begin to question what could have driven her mother Maddie away.  Just as we begin to think about that mystery, Ellen meets the aloof, mysterious widower Conor Macausland and loses her heart. Little does she, nor Conor, realize that Caitlin, his young wife who died five years earlier in a suspicious accident still roams Conor's estate, determined to always own her husband's heart.

I'm not usually one for ghost stories and I didn't realize this would be one when I picked up the book at the Markesan Public library. The title SECRETS OF THE LIGHTHOUSE is what drew me in.  Lighthouses seem to make terrific settings for novels.  Montefiore, a popular British author, uses Caitlin as a first person narrator for part of the book.  In this manner, readers begin to see her true personality in tiny increments, a very effective method.  The other chapters are told with an omniscient narrator who can explain everyone's feelings, but this narrator never observes Caitlin's presence.  The two alternating viewpoints work well together, almost telling two different stories, yet so integrally intertwined.  Won't tell anymore; never want to tell too much. Suffice to say that this is not a typical Gothic romance,  yet not a typical contemporary romance,  I was well pleased with the ending and the author's craft.  Check out her website to learn more about Santa Montefiore and her other writings. 

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