The Woman at the Light
When her husband disappears during an afternoon’s fishing, Emily Lowry grits her teeth and keeps tending the Wrecker’s Cay lighthouse in his absence. She has little choice – during the 1836 expansion of Key West’s naval base Martin and Emily’s land was commandeered – so she has nowhere else to go.
Emily keeps the lighthouse’s lamp burning, but it is a lot of work. She has three children, and another is on the way. Storms bring damage to the windswept island which must be fixed, but just when Emily is falling behind, Andrew washes up on the beach. The still-shackled young man is a runaway slave. However, Andrew says he is actually a freedman who was grabbed by slave-hunters and sold to a ship’s captain. He jumps ship during a storm and washes up on Wrecker’s Cay.
Andrew lends his considerable skills to fixing up the facilities and keeping the lighthouse’s lamp lit, and takes much of Emily’s burden onto his own shoulders. In return, she teaches him to read and write. However, Key West would be horrified if Andrew stayed on the island with the widow Lowry. Emily has already concealed her pregnancy to keep her family in the lighthouse keeper’s cabin, and she hides her new helper’s existence from the rest of the world. She breaks another taboo when she falls in love with the handsome young man.
Joanna Brady drew inspiration from real women who tended Florida’s lighthouses in her stirring historical novel. Ms. Brady’s characters are completely believable, and she presents Emily and Andrew’s forbidden romance with exquisite sensitivity. Anyone who enjoys a compelling tale with a strong-willed heroine will enjoy this novel as much as I did.