Review of “The LightKeeper’s Daughters” by Jean E. Pendziwol

Most of this story takes place at the site of the Porphyry Point Lighthouse, just east of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior’s northern shore in northwestern Ontario, Canada. The actual lightkeeper from 1880 to 1910 left behind a number of personal journals about his time there, and the author reported in an Afterword that these journals served as the inspiration for her book.

The story moves back and forth in time, and between two narrators. One is Elizabeth, an elderly woman now almost blind and living in a retirement home. The second is Morgan, a high school girl who has been assigned to do “restorative rehabilitation” at the same retirement home after being caught painting graffiti on the fence surrounding it.

Elizabeth happens to be outside in her wheelchair when Morgan is there, and asks Morgan to help wheel her to her room. Once inside, Morgan is astounded to see items in Elizabeth’s room that are very familiar to her. The mystery of it intrigues her, and she agrees to help Elizabeth by reading to her from the recently found journals of Elizabeth’s father. Elizabeth is eager to solve mysteries about her own life, and together, she and Morgan learn what happened to Elizabeth and how their lives are connected.

Porphyry Point Lighthouse in 1907,
Photograph via Library and Archives Canada

Evaluation: I’m reluctant to say too much about the plot in which many secrets are gradually unfolded, but it really is a lovely story, and the details about living at the isolated lighthouse most interesting. (You can read more about the lighthouse and the journals that were found, here.)

The main characters are very likable, and while one might have wished things turned out better for all the parties concerned, the resolution seemed realistic and as positive as it could have been. It’s a good read.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2017


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3 Responses to Review of “The LightKeeper’s Daughters” by Jean E. Pendziwol

  1. Thank you for this review. The book sounds delightful.

  2. Beth F says:

    I’ll have to look for this one. I like lighthouse stories and this sound really good. I’m going to hold off looking at the link to the journals until after I read.

  3. barbcjy says:

    Interesting! I’ve spent some time in the waters of this area, east of the Black Bay Peninsula. Will have to read the book!

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