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HANNAH by Don Ladolcetta


The Lighthouse Girl Of Newfoundland

by Don Ladolcetta

Pub Date: April 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-95-048132-3
Publisher: Tranquility Press

A semibiographical novel focuses on the life of the author’s mother, the daughter of a Newfoundland lighthouse keeper.

It is 1927, and Hannah Greene is 9 years old, one of nine siblings. Her father, Joe, like many of the men living in the small village of Point Verde, is a fisherman. It is a hardscrabble life. The work is dangerous, and Joe struggles to feed his large family. He wants to move to Boston, against the wishes of Hannah’s mother, Louise. Fortunately, Louise’s own mother has some strong connections to the powers that be, and Joe is offered a job as keeper of the Point Verde lighthouse. The position comes with a government salary, a house that will accommodate his family in comfort, food supplements, and a variety of other perks. When Hannah sees their new home, she is delighted. It has electricity and, even more spectacular, indoor plumbing. For the next 90 or so pages, readers witness the sometimes-amusing, sometimes-frightening adventures Hannah and her siblings experience during their years on the windy, often icy promontory of Point Verde. At 14, Hannah moves in with her maternal grandmother in the neighboring town of Placentia, where the teen’s social life, interests, and independence expand. During World War II, Newfoundland becomes an important military way station. When the United States builds a base near Placentia, it brings with it jobs and the influence of American culture. Although Ladolcetta’s primary characters are all members of his family, he introduces several fictional players to bolster the narrative with drama and context. He also embellishes the family stories, attributing to lead characters incidents that are culled from family lore and personal experiences. He sorts all of this out in one of his final chapters, “True Tales and Tall Tales.” Genial, conversational prose and the extensive use of dialogue maintain an engaging, in-the-moment, albeit ambling, pace. But most intriguing are the voluminous cultural details woven into the gentle novel—the daily routines, food (plenty of cod), celebrations, and unique idioms of the island. The book provides a useful glossary of local terminology and family photographs.

A tender and historically engaging tribute to a family and 20th-century Newfoundland.