The Night Mark

Written by Tiffany Reisz
Review by Jeanne Greene

Four years after the loss of her husband Will, Faye Barlow is still bereft. After a second marriage and a pregnancy (both unsuccessful), Faye, a professional photographer, has lost interest in work. When, unaccountably, the sight of an unusual bird lifts her depression, Faye accepts an assignment, packs her camera, and heads for the South Carolina coast. She’s soaking up local history when, in a photograph taken almost 100 years ago, she sees a man who looks like Will. Then the bird reappears on the island across from town, where Faye sees a lighthouse, derelict but recognizable as a place she once loved. Unable to stay away from the pier, Faye is swept by a rip tide—which takes her back to 1921. The lighthouse is fully functional, with a house and garden attached, with a manager, Carrick Morgan—the man in the faded photograph.

In her alternate life, Faye adapts to the conventions and the dangers of an earlier century to be near Carrick, even though, appearance aside, he is a stranger. How can she recover her lost love in a world she and Will never inhabited? Faye must reconcile her past and present while wondering what future is even possible.

The Carolina setting is appropriately mesmerizing, the minor characters are interesting, and Reisz has a smooth prose style. Nevertheless, the overnight transformation of a modern woman into a ´20s homebody mooning after a principled man who works nights (i.e., isn’t interested), is less credible than how she got there. The Night Mark, named after a measurement inside a lighthouse, is recommended for time travel aficionados and readers interested in American life in the early 20th century.