The Woman at the Light: Book summary and reviews of The Woman at the Light by Joanna Brady

The Woman at the Light

A Novel

by Joanna Brady

The Woman at the Light

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About this book

Book Summary

A stunning debut novel set on a remote island in Key West in 1839.

Emily Lowry, born and bred in New Orleans, forgoes high society to marry a fisherman, and together they take off for a life of adventure in the Florida Keys. One afternoon in 1839, Emily's husband vanishes from Wreckers' Cay, an isolated island off the coast of Key West where he tended to the lighthouse. As days stretch into months, Emily has no choice but to take charge of the lighthouse while caring for her three young children with a fourth on the way.

When a runaway slave washes up on her shore, Emily is at first ready to shoot him, but she lets him help with the lighthouse, and he soon wins the hearts of the Lowry family.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In her richly nuanced novel, Brady has created a heroine readers are unlikely to ever forget... An absolutely fantastic and unputdownable read!" - Michelle Moran, nationally bestselling author

"Part history, part romance, told in clear prose, The Woman at the Light is compelling and rewarding." - Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter

"A guaranteed good read!" - Mark Howell, editor of Solares Hill

"Forbidden love, passion, greed, revenge, and murder... [Brady] knows how to stop your heart on one page and pull your heart strings on the next. Along the way, she weaves in a suspenseful mystery with a surprise ending; I could not put the book down and neither will you." - John Viele, author of the The Florida Keys: A History of the Pioneers

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Reader Reviews

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Rita L. M.

A can't-put-down book
Once I started reading it was very hard to put down. It was not a run of the mill "romance" novel. The subject of slavery was honest and the lives of the people was very revealing. I learned some facts about the history of this country that I hadn't considered before. Emily had to grow up fast. Life was hard work but she was a strong woman who put her family first. A great read.

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!

...37 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Woman at the Light was inspired by Key West's colorful history and its female lighthouse keepers in the 19th century. A version of this book was originally self-published in 2010. Joanna divides her time between Key West and a stone cottage in a medieval village in the Southwest of France. You can find her at www.joannabradysite.com.

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