Review: The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

Title: The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E.Pendziwol
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


With the haunting atmosphere and emotional power of The Language of Flowers, Orphan Train, and The Light Between Oceans, critically acclaimed children’s author Jean E. Pendziwol’s adult debut is an affecting story of family, identity, and art that involves a decades-old mystery.

Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family, especially her beloved twin sister, Emily. When her late father’s journals are discovered after an accident, the past suddenly becomes all too present.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service at her senior home, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own, to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse and raised his young family seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan’s connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals will shake the foundation of everything Elizabeth thinks she knows and bring the secrets of the past into the light.


Weaving back and forth in time, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol is a poignant novel about an elderly woman’s childhood on Porphyry Island and the troubled teen who helps her piece together long ago events from her past.

After her beloved grandfather death, Morgan Fletcher becomes a ward of the state. After becoming involved with a bad crowd, she is caught spraying graffiti on the fence of an assisted living facility. Handed a community service sentence to clean up her handiwork, Morgan meets Elizabeth Livingstone, who lives in the facility. After living abroad for much of adult life, Elizabeth wanted to spend her remaining years close to Lake Superior and the island where she grew up. The recent discovery of the personal diaries her father kept while he was the lightkeeper on Porphyry Island leaves her hopeful she will finally find answers about her childhood. However, due to her failing eyesight, Elizabeth asks Morgan to read the entries to her. Will Elizabeth find the answers she is searching for? And by helping Elizabeth, will Morgan find a measure of happiness that has eluded her since her grandfather passed away?

Life has not been easy for Morgan and past heartbreak has taught her not to become too attached to anyone.  She is currently on a somewhat self-destructive path after meeting Derrick, a young man who is only looking out for himself.  Morgan has a negative attitude when she begins her community service so she is surprised to find herself drawn to Elizabeth.  Intrigued by the unfolding drama as she reads the diary entries aloud, Morgan is quickly caught up the long ago events surrounding Elizabeth’s life on Porphyry Island.

Despite some very harsh living conditions, Elizabeth’s childhood on Porphyry Island  was somewhat idyllic. She and her twin sister Emily were inseparable and  Elizabeth knew from a young age she needed to watch out for her artistically gifted but ever silent sibling.  During her childhood, an overheard conversation between her parents and her inexplicable discovery on a neighboring island raise several questions that Elizabeth never receives answers for.  Will Elizabeth find the truth about her past in her father’s journals?

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters is an incredibly atmospheric story that is quite captivating. Morgan is initially quite prickly with a bad attitude but spending time with Elizabeth helps smooth over her rough edges. Elizabeth is incredibly patient with her new companion and her wry observations and keen insights are instrumental in Morgan’s transformation.  Jean E. Pendziwol brings the past vibrantly to life through the journal entries and these glimpses into lightkeeping duties on an isolated island are quite fascinating and educational.  With surprising twists and turns, the novel comes to a heartwarming conclusion that will delight readers.

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1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Harper, Historical, Jean Pendziwol, Rated B+, Review, The Lightkeeper's Daughters

One Response to Review: The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

  1. Timitra

    Sounds good. Thanks for the heads up on this Kathy