Review: The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson

lightkeepers wifeTitle: The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


When Hannah Rescues Billy From a Shipwreck, She Will Change Both Their Lives Forever.

Hannah Snow shouldn’t be in the water, saving shipwrecked sailors. Her husband would be furious—it’s his job to tend to the lighthouse at Dangerfield, to warn the ships off the rocks. Sailors know that the Dangerfield coastline is treacherous, but the waves constantly pull them down into the deep anyway.

But when the ship Cynthia Rose runs aground, John is away buying supplies, and Hannah rushes out into the storm. She can only fish one sailor out of the icy water—weatherworn, half-drunk Billy.

When Hannah gets word that John will not return home to her, she sinks into grief so deep that she feels she may never surface again. With Billy’s help, she continues to man the lighthouse, keeping the lamps blazing even during her darkest hours. But Billy is not all that he seems. And Hannah starts to doubt whether anything she knew about this strange man—or herself—is true.

The Review:

The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson is an intriguing historical novel that offers an illuminating perspective into women’s roles in the mid 1800s. Close attention to details provides the story with historical accuracy but it is the unusual but realistic storyline that makes it such an interesting read.

Hannah Snow’s husband John inexplicably vanishes during a routine trip for supplies leaving her to maintain the lighthouse and save the survivors from the shipwrecks. One of her first rescues is William “Billy” Pike and the two grow close as Billy recovers from the injuries sustained during the shipwreck. As weeks turn into months with no word of John’s whereabouts, Billy and Hannah keep the lighthouse beacon burning brightly, but it is their collaboration to streamline their rescue efforts that tightens the bond between them. But Billy is harboring some very dark secrets and when Hannah uncovers the truth about his identity, will she continue to offer him shelter?

Hannah is a very unusual woman for the time period and she is more than capable of pulling her weight around the lighthouse. While John is willing to indulge her up to a point, her need to rescue the shipwreck victims is often a point of contention between them. She is strong-willed, passionate and after John’s disappearance, she never gives in to despair. In fact, she refuses to leave the lighthouse and continues with all of her duties along with John’s. Hannah is confused by what she learns about Billy, and despite a few initial misgivings, the two continue working together to protect sailors from harm.

Billy is very enigmatic and at first, he gives up very little information about his past. His reminisces about Anne, a woman from his past, are rather confusing since there is little context for their relationship. However, the answers for many questions about Billy are revealed through these glimpses of his past and although it takes a while, everything eventually becomes clearer. Not 100% clear since some of the events occur abruptly with little explanation or warning and then the story quickly moves on.

By the time Billy arrives at the lighthouse, he is a much more sympathetic character, but it is difficult to forgive and in some cases, understand, some of his previous actions. He is instrumental in some much needed improvements for Hannah’s rescues but do his good deeds in the present outweigh the somewhat horrible aspects from his past?

The Lightkeeper’s Wife is a well-written but rather slow-paced novel. The mystery surrounding Billy drives much of the plot, but after the truth is revealed, the remainder of the story becomes a little repetitious. Sarah Anne Johnson raises some very interesting points about women’s roles during the time period and it is fascinating watching Hannah maintain her position at the lighthouse despite some rather strenuous opposition. Hannah’s decisions about her future are also quite interesting and the relationship between her and Billy is very unexpected. A stunning plot twist adds to the novel’s uniqueness and answers some, but not all, of Hannah’s questions about Billy. All in all, it is a nice read that fans of historical novels will enjoy.

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1 Comment

Filed under Fiction, Historical, Rated C+, Review, Sarah Anne Johnson, Sourcebooks Landmark, The Lightkeeper's Wife

One Response to Review: The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Sarah Anne Johnson

  1. Timitra

    Thanks for the review Kathy