THE LAMPLIGHTERS BY EMMA STONEX


PLOT SUMMARY:

They say we'll never know what happened to those men.

They say the sea keeps its secrets...

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .


MY REVIEW:

The Lamplighters is a beautifully atmospheric and tense account of the power of the sea, loneliness and grief. The story isn't just about three lighthouse keepers that go missing. It addresses many important issues around grief, how it can lead to loneliness and isolation and the levels people will go to to help deal with loss and tragedy.

Lighthouse keeping isn't something I had ever really thought about before but as soon as I started this book, I realised the pressure there must have been in that occupation. Not only are you likely isolated and cut off, living in an extremely cramped environment, but your responsibility goes beyond just keeping a light lit. Their are lives depending on you to do your job right and be on the look out for sailors and people out in the open sea. In a way, it's sad that it is all automised now but after reading this and getting an insight into how difficult it can be, maybe it is best that things have changed. It isn't natural for people to spend so much time alone or confined in such a small space with one or two others and this story clearly illustrates what it can do to a person.

I thought the writing was just beautiful. I was hooked from the very beginning and the way Stonex describes the Maiden and its surroundings, you could so clearly picture this menacing lighthouse and the vast sea that surrounds it. The story evolves around 6 key people; the lighthouse keepers and their wives. There is of course the author as well but we don't get any narrative from him, which I found interesting. We really get to know the others through their story, both on the lighthouse before the disappearance and 20 years later. The characters are very strong and each brought their own key angles and narrative to the overall story.

I also liked how the narrative changed from first person to third person and then the conversations with the author were all one sided. I would have thought it would be confusing but in fact, I thought it gave the whole story some really interesting angles that helped paint the whole picture.

With regards to the plot itself, Stonex builds up this fascinating and powerful story that really immerses the reader into the world of the lighthouse keepers. Very quickly you realise the strains that are forming between them and the various struggles they are facing, which become a lot clearer as the story develops. The backstories to each of the keepers were really well depicted and helped explain why they were the way they were and why they were in a profession such as this.

I did find the ending a little underwhelming and predictable but I had a feeling that it would be the case, so it didn't leave me too disappointed.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and just loved how atmospheric the whole story was. I could so clearly picture myself looking at the Maiden with the sea air surrounding me. Big thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this before publication.


IN 3 WORDS/PHRASES:

Atmospheric

Tense

Beautifully Written


FAVOURITE QUOTE:

'It's like a bird in a bloody cage, isn't it? It's fine in the cage but then as soon as you let is out it sees what it's been missing. It sees it wasn't ever meant for this, and its wings don't work after all.'


FAVOURITE CHARACTER:

Really unsure about this one to be honest...I really liked Vince and Arthur. There was so much depth to them and they were super string characters.


OVERALL RATING:

/10

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