Linda J. (Manchester, MO)
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.
Elinor M. (Roswell, NM)
If I Could Give It A Ten, I Would!
Simply stated, this is a fascinating and captivating historical novel. At its heart is a strong, determined young woman, the likes of whom would be difficult to encounter today. This protagonist was supported with many richly described characters and the history of the Key West area brought an engaging depth to the story. It is such an excellent read that I found it almost impossible to set aside when life's chores beckoned.
In my opinion, I think it is a brilliant debut novel and would recommend it to friends and, definitely, as a book club choice.
Melissa K. (Oviedo, Florida)
The Woman at the Light
A compelling read! You won't be able to put this one down. Joanna Brady produced a novel of historical fiction at its best. Not nearly enough has been written about Florida's early history. Joanna Brady's novel is in the same league as Patrick Smith's The Land Remembered. I can't say enough about her talent as a writer and story teller. A must read!
Sue Z. (Mooresville, NC)
Has everything that makes reading a good book so enjoyable
This lovely story, based on real life characters, has everything that makes reading a good book so enjoyable. The woman, for whom the book is titled, grows throughout the entire story, becoming stronger and more her own person with every page. The other characters are equally interesting being adventurous pioneers who have come to the very tip of the country, Key West, to seek fortune and fame (or infamy in some cases).
This is the perfect book for book club discussion as it has everything, star-crossed lovers, villains, hard scrabble lives, incredible wealth and a wonderful tropical setting
Kimberly A. (Hannibal, MO)
In the World of Wickies and Wreckers
Set in pre-Civil War southern Florida, The Woman at the Light ensnares the reader into the lives of unforgettable characters, whose courage and determination defy their prescribed place in society and history. At one point in the novel, Emily, the main character, describes herself as "a child of my time and place." Through Andrew, "the one man I truly loved," she grows beyond that time and place and gives the reader a reason to applaud the tireless human spirit. The author's mastery of character development made me truly care for the people of this novel.
For book clubs, this historical novel opens a treasure trove of discussion starters: lighthouses, wreckers, slavery, Indian raids, isolation survival, and Florida's history (especially eclectic Key West!).
I really liked this book!
Phyllis R. (Rochester Hills, MI)
I began reading "The Woman at the Light" as I watched an intense red orange sunset over Lake Michigan at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Northpport, MI where my husband volunteers as part of the Keeper Program. I know very little about the Florida Lighthouses except to know that. Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state!
This historical novel set in 1889-1883 captures the hardships of lighthouse keepers, the unpredictability of the weather and their courage. Also the reader learns about the colorful Key West history, the wrecking and salvaging industry, cigar factories, miscegenation, status of women, slavery and abolition preceding the Civil War, and the harsh life without electricity and running water. Two thumbs up for this rewarding and enlightening novel by Joanna Brady who certainly did her research. Phyllis, MI
April P. (Traverse City, Mi)
A Look into Key West History
The first page had me a little concerned, I felt as if the author was loading the page with too many descriptive words but that didn't continue. The plot was excellent and I never suspected the outcome which I have to say was refreshing, it seems sometimes authors can give too many clues which can take most of the mystery out of a book and can leave a reader feeling cheated. That did not happen in this book! I enjoyed the main character Emily, she is very strong and I appreciate how she handles her responsibilities as a mother. The author does a wonderful job of making this a historical fiction novel but many issues that women dealt with in the late 1800's as well as today run throughout this book, I believe this makes for a more relate-able book for women readers.
I also enjoyed the detailed description of the old lighthouses and the work it took to keep one operating, the author does a great job of painting a picture of shipwrecks among the Florida Keys and the necessity of the lighthouses as well as the possible seclusion and loneliness the lighthouse families/attendants may have felt at times as well as the positives to being away from societies pressures and expectations. This book made me want to live on Wreckers Cay and work the lighthouse and watch ships pass by day in and day out!