Author: Santa Montefiore
Secrets of the Lighthouse is a very spiritual novel set in the coastal town of Ballymaldoon, Ireland. A small town where everyone knows your business and the gossip travels almost as fast as the speed of light, which would lead you to believe that it is impossible to keep a secret but apparently that’s not the case as we slowly uncover.
I found Secrets of the Lighthouse started quite slowly and took me a while to get fully entranced. The potential to be a great read was always there but the beginning seemed to drag. Today I spent much of the day in the hospital with my young man waiting for day surgery so there was little in the way of pressing distractions, but much in the way of noisy ones, which gave me a great opportunity to persevere with the book and really get involved in the story. The twists were quite predictable and I had worked out what the big reveal was going to be long before it came to pass.
What I did find interesting about this narrative, once I got my head around the way it worked, is that it is written partly in the first person and partly in the third which certainly took some getting used to.
Caitlin is our tragic first person heroine, a lively and well loved woman who fell to her death from the ruins of the lighthouse five years earlier. Her death is still much talked, and speculated, about in the small town of Ballymaldoon where Caitlin is still well loved and fondly remembered. Her spirit is still tied to the town and to the family that she has left behind, a family she intends to stay with eternally because she can’t bear the thought of even an afterlife without them.
Ellen is our other lead character, she’s a London girl born and bred but has never really felt at home there. In the lead up to her wedding she finds herself overwhelmed and needs some time out, she runs away to the one place she knows her mother won’t look for her – the small Irish town her mothers estranged sister lives in. Ellen runs away, leaving no information about where she’s going and refusing to answer any messages.
Arriving in Ballymaldoon Ellen discovers not only an aunt but an entire Irish family whose existence she was completely unaware of, quite a daunting discovery I would think. Ellen fast finds herself feeling at home and comfortable with her new family and as she settles into life in the country she discovers a whole new side of herself. A love of nature, a love of space and peace that she had never even dreamed of having been brought up in London in a wealthy, titled family.
The further we delve into the book the more we realise that even though Ballymaldoon is a town rife with gossip it still hides its share of secrets, but what will the fallout be when those secrets are uncovered?
Much of this story is of a spiritual nature, as can be expected by one of the storytellers being a spirit. We learn a lot of Caitlin’s afterlife and the journey to enlightenment she must undertake. There are lessons we all need to learn, while we are of the physical plane and once we leave it. Until we learn these lessons we can’t move on and Santa Montefiore explores this quite well with Caitlin who is tied to her living family but those ties aren’t helping her any more than they are helping her children or her widow. It seems that the limitations she suffered with in life have followed her into death and until she can shed them she will be trapped.
Ellen’s journey brings her to the discovery of a huge Irish family that fills the bulk of a town. A family filled with passion and affection that her much more repressed English family never express. The memories she hears of her mother seem to be at complete odds with the woman Ellen knows and she can’t reconcile the two being the same woman, or understand what happened to make such a major change in her.
Her time in Ballymaldoon allows Ellen to realise what she doesn’t want in life, and that is marriage to her fiance even though she thought he was the perfect match to fit into her family. She doesn’t want to be the perfect fit in her English family. She wants to discover herself and become a writer, originally that’s why she ran to Ireland – she wanted to be a writer and her time in Ireland was to be inspired and write her novel to see if she had any talent. She discovered many things she would never have dreamed of.
After a slow start that saw me wading through chapters waiting for the pull I did find myself intrigued. I wanted to discover the answers to all the unanswered questions and I wanted to find out if my theories were true. An enjoyable read that explores family, religion, relationships, love and loss in a poignant manner that reminds us just how important love is in life.