5 Special Places in Literature: Enlightening Lighthouses
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Every time you visit a lighthouse, whether in person or online during these times, there are a wealth of stories to discover. And when you open the pages of a book with a lighthouse theme, you'll find the beautiful sentinels of the sea acting as another character in the book.
Here is a sampling of five of my own favorite tales featuring lighthouses:
Readers of my past blogs know I often think of L. M. Montgomery when making a list of my favorite books. This time is no exception!
She has written one of the most moving accounts of a lighthouse keeper in a novel. It seems to me as if Captain Jim comes alive on the pages of Anne's House of Dreams. It is one of the author's most deeply-felt books, I think, with a somewhat wistful and sad air about it.
I didn't notice it at first, but there's a tiny lighthouse in the lower left corner of this fabulous book cover.
I just learned a surprising fact about lighthouses and Prince Edward Island:
Did you know there are about 45 lighthouses on Prince Edward Island, the setting for Anne's House of Dreams? The ins and outs of the coastline made multiple lighthouses necessary around the small island—a true lighthouse aficionado's paradise. This website presents a wealth of stories about them:
With autumn approaching, and then winter storms next on the horizon, it's a good time to plan an armchair vacation. This DVD presentation takes a grand tour of lighthouses in the United States. The tagline for this PBS show is alluring: "Discover the romantic world of U. S. lighthouses..."
The visually stunning program lives up to that description and is a joy to watch.
As my husband and I traveled to our new home in Washington, we stopped at a little bookstore along the way (of course!). On the shelves stood a row of books with beautifully designed covers.
When I took one down from the shelf, I was delighted to find the story took place in the exact area where we were moving. It seemed like a special welcome to our new home.
The series,"The Mysteries of Sparrow Island," is set in the Puget Sound Islands. Ornithologist Abigail Stanton, the amateur sleuth in the books, works at a nature conservancy and museum. These are gentle, faith-based mysteries, perfect to relax with at the end of the day. The book featured here, A Light in the Dark, concerns some mysterious happenings at a lighthouse.
While writing my own novel featuring a lighthouse, Mystery Shores, I've read quite a few non-fiction books by Elinor DeWire. I enjoyed them all, and The Lighthkeepers' Menagerie is one of my favorites.
The everyday world of lighthouse keepers was filled with a wide variety of animals. They were important for both survival and companionship. The author weaves together true stories of lighthouses with the personalities of the animals living there, from dogs to donkeys.
One of the stories continues on her website. The author tells the touching account of Lucy, the beautiful "cover girl" on The Lightkeepers' Menagerie:
I found these books as a teenager, and still remember them as one of the best historical series I have read. I think it's time for me to revisit St. Simons Island and the compelling characters of James Gould and Janie Harris.
Set in post-revolutionary times, James is a young man who dreams of building a lighthouse. The family saga continues in New Moon Rising and The Beloved Invader.
In my home, I discovered a connection to the books:
Soon after I married, I bought this painting (above) for our first apartment—it now hangs in the office where I write. It was fun to recognize "my" painting on the cover of New Moon Rising, the second book in the St. Simons Trilogy.
I hope you'll soon have a chance to sit with a view of the ocean and read a new or favorite lighthouse book.
Linda is the author of Mystery Shores, a novel of secrets set on a remote lighthouse island. Linda lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where her novel takes place.