Secrets Of The Lighthouse
Simon & Schuster AU
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Ellen Trawton is running away from her life. She’s always felt a little out of place in her English high society family. Both of her younger sisters have married extremely well and the pressure is now on for Ellen to do the same. But she feels a need to be free and explore her creative side. So she quits her job in marketing for a London jeweler and leaving only a note for her mother, escapes to Connemara in Ireland and the sister that her mother never talks about.
Ellen finds not just her Aunt Peg but a whole host of uncles and cousins that she never even knew existed. She begins to realise that her mother escaped her family and reinvented herself and has never come back and all of a sudden, Ellen wants to know more about her mother’s past and what happened here before she married Lord Trawton and moved to London. The longer Ellen stays in Connemara the more she falls utterly in love with the beautiful wind swept coast, the more she wants to stay and the more she finds out about herself and her family.
Ellen meets notorious local figure Conor Macausland, owner of the nearby manor although he doesn’t live there anymore. A few years ago Conor’s wife Caitlin died tragically at the old lighthouse and her loss has haunted him ever since. Believed by many locals to have murdered her and looked upon with suspicion, Conor splits his time between Dublin and Connemara, bringing his two young children back to their former home and helping keep the memory of their mother alive.
Sparks fly between Conor and Ellen, despite the curious eyes of the town and downright disapproval from some of Ellen’s new found relatives. But Caitlin’s restless and vengeful spirit still lingers, determined to keep her hold on Conor and be assured of his love for her. Ellen threatens Caitlin’s security and she wants to make sure that her husband doesn’t find anyone else that he can give himself to. Not while she’s still around.
I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Santa Montefiore but she has a large number of novels published. I love novels set in Ireland so this was a good place to start for me and I immediately found myself warming to Ellen as a character – she was someone I think I’d like in real life. She was being pigeon-holed into something she didn’t want to do and she’d always felt that she didn’t quite fit in to her family. When she arrives in Ireland, she finds a whole host of people that she can be much more comfortable around, who aren’t concerned with the latest high fashion, facials, botox, holidays etc. She wants to work on a novel, sure she’ll be inspired by the beautiful surroundings, however when she sits down she is unable to write at a word. Her thoughts are filled with her mother and what must’ve happened 30+ years ago for her to leave and never return….and also, of Conor Macausland.
This book is partially told in first person narrative by Caitlin (or rather, Caitlin’s spirit) and the rest is third person from Ellen’s point of view. Because we’re treated to Caitlin’s perspective, we get her thoughts on Conor most often, because Ellen doesn’t really know him yet. Caitlin and Conor’s marriage was a volatile one and Conor is portrayed as quick-tempered, callous and a little cruel. The whole town seems to distrust him with the more outspoken ones definitely blaming him for Caitlin’s death. Despite this and despite all the rumours, Ellen can’t stay away from him and it seems that he can’t stay away from her either. She puts a new life into Conor – he cuts his hair and shaves his beard, he begins to come out of the black hole of the past five years. And Caitlin resents that. She’s chosen to hang around to stay in their lives. She hasn’t been bothered with any of the women Conor has used and discarded but when he looks at Ellen, she sees something that disturbs her deeply.
I have to admit, ghosts/spirits aren’t really my thing so I was less concerned with the story of Caitlin and how she actually died/what she was really like and much more interested in Ellen and her journey about finding out the truth about herself. It’s incredibly obvious and she fails to see it for the longest time – in fact she should’ve seen it as a teenager in high school if she did any sort of basic biology at all. But the way in which the story played out was very interesting even if I cannot really wrap my head around what an ultra conservative Catholic lifestyle is like if it includes cutting yourself off from someone for the rest of your life. I’m not religious and the experience I do have with religious Catholics is far more tolerant than Ellen’s. I really enjoyed how the longer Ellen spent in Connemara the more she discovered about herself and what she wanted to do and what she was good at. Even though we never really saw her in her London life, it seemed as though she lacked direction and confidence before coming to Connemara – she couldn’t even tell anyone in her family that she was leaving/getting away for a little while, or the man she was supposed to be marrying. Instead she just ran away and hid in Ireland, throwing her phone into the sea so she wouldn’t have to deal with anyone. It seemed an immature action for a woman of over 30 but after some time in Connemara it seemed as though she was ready to at least speak up for herself and tell her mother in particular that she intended to remain in Ireland and that she was going to pursue things she was passionate about, not what her mother expected her to.
I loved the Irish characters, especially Ellen’s Aunt Peg. The romance with Conan was only average, it didn’t really drum up many feelings inside me. But the book does reference The Age of Innocence a lot and that interested me quite a lot. I have a copy on my shelves and I found myself seeking it out after I finished this one, keen to know more.
Book #327 of 2013