I love a great ghost story, and Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore is a unique one. The first page instantly drew me in as I pictured a young wife and mother looking at a lighthouse in the beautiful Connemara region of Ireland and a tiny chapel by the sea where family was gathering for a funeral. As the chapter drew to a close and I discovered the narrator, a woman whose shoes I'd set myself into, was actually a ghost watching her own funeral, I was completely intrigued. I had to find out what happened in the charred remains of the abandoned lighthouse.
In between the ghost’s chapters, we follow the story of Ellen Trawton, who has decided to run away from her family’s home in England and visit her mother’s sister Peg, whom she has never met. In fact, Ellen’s mother had been adamant that her family never visit Ireland so when Ellen arrives, she is shocked to discover that she not only has an aunt but a number of uncles and cousins. Ellen is running away from an arranged marriage she never wanted to a man she doesn’t love, as well as the pretentious trappings of her mother’s life—a life she wants her daughters to emulate. Aunt Peg’s home sits along the same coastline as the abandoned lighthouse and Ellen is intrigued with the rumors of what happened there, each piece of gossip more salacious than the last.
The author causes the village to come alive. I could feel the Wild Atlantic Way as the ocean’s spray reached Ireland's west coast, could smell the salt on the air and taste the rain that is ever present. Within the pages, I witnessed a large group of characters spring to life and yet I never felt overwhelmed by them all, and each was easy to remember. Each, in fact, carried a story of their own, a small piece of the larger puzzle that brought the mystery to life.
Secrets of the Lighthouse is a story of decisions made, often in haste and without regard for the consequences. In turn, they placed each character on a particular path, some by their own choice and others as collateral damage.
Ellen discovers secrets that were hidden for thirty years, secrets that impacted both her past and her future. Her mother’s story unravels to reveal the lies that were told, the life that was chosen—and that life which she left behind, the consequences of which reared up when least expected.
When Ellen falls for Conor, the ghost’s widower, she must decide whether to believe the tales told in the village pub or discover what really happened that fateful night at the lighthouse. As she grows ever closer to Conor, his dead wife must decide what she will do, where she will go, and whether to leave this life behind or continue haunting it.
If you enjoy stories set in Ireland, a ghost story, romance, mystery and adventure, you will enjoy Secrets of the Lighthouse. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.