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The Woman at the Light

A Novel

By Joanna Brady

The Woman at the Light
  • Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Jul 2012,
    336 pages.

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There are currently 42 reader reviews for The Woman at the Light
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Kristine I. (Carmel, IN) (08/12/12)

Escape to Key West
I found The Woman at the Light a fun easy read, and found myself drawn in quickly to the story. I enjoyed learning about the keeping of the lighthouse and the history of Key West. The pace of the book was good and it kept my interest, but somehow I felt a bit detached from the narrator. I would have liked to feel her emotions more deeply. So many tragic and beautiful things happened to her but they were told a bit too matter-of-fact. She was still a strong woman, and I could admire her for how she dealt with all the challenges that came her way.
Grace S. (Harrison Township, MI) (08/02/12)

The Woman at the Light
An enjoyable read with a descriptive history of Key West in the 1800s as well as insight into the role of women and slavery .... all interwoven with family dynamics and a love story.
Kristin P. (Reston, VA) (08/02/12)

A Summer-worthy historical fiction read
The Woman at the Light is historical fiction that transports you to another era in Old Key West. The greatest strength of the book is the rich historical setting. The character development, however, seems very 2-dimensional and at times feels forced to support the story. Overall, this is a fast read great for summer.
Linda J. (Manchester, MO) (07/31/12)

The Woman at the Light
What a delight this book is! If you like Key West and are captivated by lighthouses, this book will keep you turning pages and wondering what will happen next. Joanna Brady did her research on women who "keep the light" in lighthouses, and has spun a tale filled with romance, mystery, and heartbreak. Emily Lowry was born in a well-to-do New Orleans family. After a whirlwind romance, she moves with husband Martin to Key West, then to Wreckers' Cay, an island off the coast, where Martin runs the lighthouse. One day, he disappears leaving her with their two children in charge. When a runaway slave finds the island, the story takes off. Spanning 45 years, the story is perfectly paced. Brady has captured the feel and atmosphere of the time when society had much different rules. How Emily copes with what life throws at her makes this book a compelling read.
Barbara L. (Mill Valley, CA) (07/30/12)

The Woman at the Light
I really liked this book. Emily Lowry is a character that resonates with the reader. Her growth and transformation from a pampered,wealthy young Southern woman to a strong, courageous independent woman whose eyes were opened to the ways of the world from which she had always been sheltered was compelling. How she learned to follow her heart and defy the strict societal mores of her day provided for a very satisfying read. This would be a great book for book club discussions, as there are many aspects to consider, among them slavery, Key West history and miscegenation. A good read!
Julia A. (New York, NY) (07/28/12)

Interesting but uneven
"The Woman at the Light" is an interesting read from the standpoint of dealing with a topic not often seen in novels, that of women lighthouse tenders in the pre-civil war era. I learned a lot from this book. The book's narrator, Emily, was one such lighthouse keeper, gaining the post when her husband disappeared. The narration is broken down by time periods, and some of the chapters are fast-paced and exciting. Others are slow-going. At times, I felt frustrated by Emily's lack of emotion when narrating events that would have inspired strong emotions in any person. At other times, the emotion was appropriate to the situation. Dealing with such weighty themes as miscegenation, interracial sex, family treachery, betrayal, piracy, and disease, there is of course the risk of melodrama; perhaps trying to avoid that pitfall accounts for the author's at times giving Emily such a dispassionate, almost off-hand narrative style while other times allowing her to express the expected human emotion. The book is worth a read for its insights into the historic period before and immediately after the Civil War, told from an unusual viewpoint, but don't expect to be blown away by "The Woman at the Light."
Anna M. (Dallas, TX) (07/22/12)

Good Beachside Reading
I wanted to review this book because I'm a total beach girl, love reading stories that have settings on islands, beaches or coastlines, and I have visited in Key West before and wanted to know more about it. This book certainly delivers in those regards! The historical references to Key West and the Florida Keys in the mid 1800's are interesting and informative.

The character development, however, wasn't enough to involve me emotionally in the book. While there are some tragedies and triumphs, not enough is known about Emily, Andrew and their families and histories to draw you into the story. I was more involved with the mystery, social structure and evolution of the lighthouse lifestyle and the development of Key West as a major financial influence on the state of Florida.

This book is fast-paced and will definitely satisfy your need for an easy read at the water this summer.
Audrey C. (Canfield, OH) (07/19/12)

The Woman at the Light
Joanna Bradley in The Woman at the Light introduces us to an aged Emily Lowery as she tends five graves: two deceased husbands, a sister, beloved Gran, and the only man she ever loved. The reader begins a powerful journey from New Orleans, Key West to Wreckers' Cay. The story is gripping, happy, sad, breathtaking, hopeful, etc.; all part of Emily's struggles of growing.

Certainly, life is the dominated slave of time and, yet, we observe that only love can bring euphoria to life. Emily is an immature romantic, a disappointed newlywed, a mother, a widow, a lighthouse keeper, again in another unfulfilled marriage, another death, and a forbidden love that becomes the ultimate love of her life!

Even though Emily lives in a society where men prevail, women can't vote or take charge, she proves that she can prevail albeit with multiple struggles and deaths. She proclaims, "happiness comes but once and then only if we are very lucky." Indeed, she finally attains a happiness that takes the reader by surprise and slowly the mysterious turn in her life is revealed.

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