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This falls far short of the two Gould fictional biographies of writers,-Miss Emily and Jane, but perhaps Celia Laighton Thaxter's life and personality offered less to her biographer. This reads like fiction, thinly veiled, and the limitations biography puts upon it makes the end result rather tepid tea. That in spite of a personal bias -- from childhood on- for lighthouses, and the manner of life thereon. The setting is the Isles of Shoals, off the New Hampshire- Maine coast. The story starts when Celia is only five, and her father, somewhat crippled both in body and spirit, determines to put the ""continent"" behind him, and live forever on the island, as keeper of the light. The time is 1840- and continues through Celia's growing up, to her marriage to an older man, Levi Thaxter, and her early attempts to write the verse which has made her name a familiar one to school children. But viewed as fiction, the story creates an impression of an ingrown life, of a father-daughter attachment that is unreal, of content with being out off from the world on a storm swept, rocky island. There is little of actual adventure. The most interesting section- in view of Celia Thaxter's later use of the material, deals with the island garden....The choice of Anne Molloy for this subject (if choice it was) was perhaps unfortunate. Her previous novels for girls have shown a rather morbid concentration on self-sacrifice, sickness, false pride. Celia Thaxter's isolated youth has given opportunity for more of the same.

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 1949
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin