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review 2019-05-30 18:27
Two heroines
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Hazel Gaynor
Combining two stories to tell the life of lighthouse keeping and coming of age make this a charming and intelligent read of historical fiction. Grace Darling was also known as the Heroine of the Farne Isles because of her actions during the wreck of the Forfarshire where many lives were lost, but, because of Grace and her father, nine lives were saved. The companion story tells of Matilda Emmerson, a “disgraced” Irish nineteen year old escaping her family’s judgement to spend time with a distant relative who is a lighthouse keeper in America.
Well researched and written, both tales tell the hardships and joys of “keeping” over the space of a hundred years. Gaynor’s characters come to life as she exposes their lives and work. The terror and beauty of the raw power of the sea tell its own story in masterful hands. The dynamics of family and friendship are exposed as each woman’s story is revealed.
Book groups will enjoy the tales and learn a great deal about “keeping” and also the natural beauty and power of living seaside.
5 of 5 stars


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review 2018-10-18 15:02
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter - Hazel Gaynor

Grace Darling is the daughter of the Longstone Lighthouse keeper in the Farne Islands. She has dedicated her life to helping her father keep the light. Although, for a young women in the 1830's, this is not the life that is expected of her. Grace's life is put into the spotlight when she assists her father in rescuing the survivors of a shipwreck. One of the survivors of the shipwreck is Sarah Dawson, who has lost both of her children to the sea. Sarah is also the brother of George Emmerson, an artist who visited Longstone and formed a strong bond with Grace. Grace and Sarah become fast friends after their ordeal on the island and share a bond of courage and heartache.

One hundred years later, Sarah's great-great granddaughter, Matilda arrives in Rhode Island disgraced and pregnant, sent away from her hometown in Ireland to stay with her cousin and lighthouse keeper, Harriet. To keep herself busy Matilda sorts through an old chest, finding momentos of Grace Darling and George Emmerson. By learning the stories of Grace, Sarah and Harriet, Matilda finds strength within herself to what must be done.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter is a story of courage and bravery carried through time. The phrase "Even the brave were once afraid" is a theme throughout the book and something that each character realizes over time. I was pleased to learn the history of Grace Darling, I name I have heard of, but didn't know anything about. Much of what is written about Grace is fact-based and well researched. Through the writing I could perfectly picture Grace and her attention to her duties and well as her unease at becoming a heroine for simply performing the duty of a lighthouse keeper. Matilda and Harriet's story took a little bit longer to capture my attention; however, when all of the secrets throughout time are revealed, their bravery shines through and everything falls into place. As always, Hazel Gaynor's writing transports me easily through time periods with poise and captures multiple characters personalities perfectly. Overall, an amazing story of courage and love.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2017-09-30 00:00
The Cottingley Secret
The Cottingley Secret - Hazel Gaynor Review coming soon.
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review 2017-09-23 19:16
Last Christmas in Paris
Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I - Heather Webb,Hazel Gaynor

In 1969 Tom Harding makes a final trip to Paris for Christmas.   While he is there he re-reads all the letters sent between 1914 and 1918.  In 1914, Evie Elliot's brother, Will and best friend, Tom  leave for the Front.  Evie diligently writes to both of them. In their letters, the three divulge their greatest wishes, fears, and emotions.  Most of all, they all wish for the war to be over by Christmas so they may celebrate the holiday in Paris.  Little do they know how much the War will change all of them.  

An all at once heartwarming and heartbreaking story of love and loss during World War I.  Told almost entirely in letter exchanges between Evie and her loved ones, this book completely enveloped me as I devoured every word.  There was so much passion in the writing, especially the letters between Thomas and Evie, I felt as if these could be two real people.  I felt like I was immersed into their most intimate moments and my heart raced for when they would finally declare their love for one another.   Through the letters, I was able to see the impact of the war from all sides. Through Evie, I got a sense of how it felt to be left behind, the worry, dread and depression of fearing that your loved ones may not come home and the overwhelming urge to do something about it.  Through Tom, the gruesome depictions of the Front that the media wouldn't let anyone know of as well as the mental toll that war takes on the soldiers.  Also, through Evie's exchanges with her friend Alice, we learn of the many ways that women jumped in to help from delivering the mail, to nursing and driving ambulances to the Auxillary Corps and even writing newspaper articles.  What affected me most was Tom's re-reading of the letters and his opening of the final letter at the end.  Overall, a wonderfully written historical novel reminding me of the sacrifices made by our veterans. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2017-09-17 00:00
Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I
Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of Worl... Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I - Heather Webb,Hazel Gaynor In the summer of 1914, when England went to war with Germany, both the solders and the loved ones they left behind, were certain it would end quickly - by Christmas. Unfortunately, it took over four years for peace to come, and the only small respite both those at home and those away had, were letters to and from their loved ones. In this novel, Heather Webb and Hazel Gaynor bring us a story of just such correspondence. Read more about this lovely book in my review here.
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