One afternoon in 1839, Emily Lowry’s husband vanishes from Wreckers’ Cay, an isolated island off the coast of Key West where he tends to the lighthouse. As days stretch into months, Emily has no choice but take charge of Wrecker’s Cay and her husband’s duties tending the light to support her three children, and a fourth on the way. Unexpected help arrives when a runaway slave named Andrew washes up on their beach. At first, Emily is intensely wary of this strange, charming man, whose very presence there is highly illegal. But Andrew proves himself an enormous help and soon wins the hearts of the Lowry family. And, far from the outside world and society’s rules, his place in Emily’s life is as steadfast now as the light, and will forever change their futures. When Emily’s family is ripped apart once again, she faces untold hardships that test her love and determination and show how the passionate love of a defiant, determined woman can overcome any obstacle.
A lighthouse is of such significance both as a life-saver and a symbol. On dangerous coasts in the 19th century their importance could not be over-rated, so it is astonishing to learn that in some cases, the vital task of igniting the light each evening was undertaken by women. This story is based on one of those women who had responsibility for part of the wrecking coast of the Florida Keys.
Emily is determined to take on this responsibility, in the hope that her husband Martin will reappear. Living alone on the fictional island of Wreckers’ Cay, 23 miles from Key West, Emily’s family have in many ways found their life idyllic and she has no wish to become dependent on her Gran. The arrival of Andrew, still shackled as a slave, is a shock but also a blessing. He becomes an important part of the children’s lives and gradually Emily begins to feel desire for him. Such a situation in that place and time can only lead to tragedy and the approach of a terrible storm changes their lives forever.
Emily is a survivor, but she is also a spirited woman who makes her own way in the world, fighting for the best life for her children. Her sister Dorothy seems a more relaxed, easy-going woman for whom life is easier, but we learn that she is more complex and plays a major role in Emily’s future. The second part of this story takes back to Key West and later to Cuba and New York. I found the interaction between Emily and the men she encountered, depending on her social standing, particularly interesting. We might find it very hard to adapt to a man such as Pedro Salas, who combines charm and sexual demands, but Emily is a woman of her time.
What begins as a story of love and hardship, becomes an unfolding mystery story and family saga. I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in 19th century American history and also as a story of passion and courage.
You can find The Woman at the Light at Amazon UK
and at Amazon US