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The Woman at the Light

A Novel

by Joanna Brady

The Woman at the Light by Joanna Brady X
The Woman at the Light by Joanna Brady
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There are currently 37 member reviews
for The Woman at the Light
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  • Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
    Summer's Perfect Storm...
    What is sitting on the beach, time on your hands, reading glasses in place, lathered up with sunscreen and a good book to read? Ah summer! It is the best of times when all of these things, especially the good book, come together at once…a perfect storm scenario without the storm. Woman at the Light is an integral part of this summers’ perfect storm. Joanna Brady has written an evenly paced, historical fiction romance that could result in sunburn if you don’t have that sunscreen. You won’t want to put it down until you have read the last page. In 1829, Emily, a young Southern bell from New Orleans becomes infatuated with a handsome “wrecker,” men who salvage cargo from shipwrecks along the coast of the Florida Keys. Based loosely on the lives of women who assumed the duties of lighthouse keeping after their husbands died or disappeared, Emily endures everything the natural world can throw at her along with having to navigate the social mores of the pre-Civil War era in the deep South. Brady has just the right blend of history, romance and reality to make a week end at the beach fulfilling as well as frivolous. Perfect…
  • Carol T. (Ankeny, Iowa)
    A Woman at the Light
    A page turner. Excellent for book club discussions. Good historical accuracy, which is a big plus. My only criticism: for most of the book, nearly everything happens to Emily and we see her cope. I would have preferred her to act rather than react.
  • Malinda N. (Wheeling, WV)
    The Woman at the Light
    This novel was a wonderful historical fiction read. The story dealt with issues of race and love in the early 19th century. I found the love story and its consequences to be quite believable and, while the end leaves the reader happy, the story itself is not trite in that it paints a realistic picture of the realities of unsanctioned romances. Both Emily and Andrew are characters that the reader must admire and those of Dorothy and Tom, while less admirable, are realistic and likeable in their own way. If I could give one criticism to the publishers it would be about the cover of the book. As a librarian I fully realize how ridiculous it might sound to say that but the reality is that many people DO judge a book by its cover when they are browsing. The cover of this books lends one to think they are about to read a poorly written romance novel. One would not even grasp that it is a historical fiction read based upon the clothing of the woman on the jacket. When I received it in the mail I thought to myself..."what the heck did I choose"? Fortunately. I pledged to read the novel and was very glad that I did.
  • Kristine I. (Carmel, IN)
    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.
  • Julia A. (New York, NY)
    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)
    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.
  • Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
    Survival in the Keys
    The Woman at the Light, by Joanna Brady, is the warm, compelling story of Emily Lowry. It mainly takes you to (ficticious) Wreckers Cay in South FLorida in the 1800's. From class and money in New Orleans, she becomes a wife and mother, a lighthouse keeper, a boardinghouse cook etc. and survives. A relationship with a slave causes great difficulties. There is a lot of history here in the Keys, including the dangers of boats transporting goods, and slaves through the shallow channels and also dealing with the Seminole Indians.

    The cover of the book seems to convey peace and beauty with the famous sunset. The story is anything but.

    It's a women's book for all ages. Emily is someone we can all admire. She is intelligent and resourceful and you have to admire her.

    It reminds me of another new book, Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster where the heroine controls her own fate.

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