THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER by James Michael Pratt

THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER

KIRKUS REVIEW

Best-selling Pratt’s second is sweetly sincere but less affecting than his first (The Last Valentine, 1998) in detailing two generations of Irish-American men learning to endure loss. Ranging in place from Ireland to wartime Italy and an island near Nantucket, the story of Billie O' Banyon and his nephew Peter is told in flashbacks as the dying Peter visits Port Hope lighthouse for the last time. The lighthouse has served not only as a warning to ships but as a metaphorical beacon of hope for men who have found consolation either working the light, as Uncle Billie did, or visiting it later, like Peter. Accompanied by his only daughter, Kathleen, Peter tells how Uncle Billie immigrated to America, married Katie, served in the merchant Navy in WWI, and, having saved his money, returned to Ireland with Katie and their only child. But both Katie and child died in the postwar influenza epidemic, and a grieving Billie returned to America, where he found solace minding the lighthouse. In the early 1930s, he’s joined by young Peter, the only survivor of a fiery car crash that killed all of Peter’s family. The younger man keeps up Billie’s logbook and now tells Kathleen that it contains a legacy, 'the secret to ageless contentment and ageless love.' Peter tells his own story, how he married Anna before setting off to fight, survived the war though losing his best buddies, and came back to the lighthouse to visit with Anna and their infant daughter Kathleen. More tragedy awaits him, but once more he survives it, buoyed by Uncle Billie’s message'that keeping the light of love bright makes life endurable'a message that, in turn, will later sustain Kathleen. Heartfelt but too message-driven'and thus uncompelling'to bring out the Kleenex. (Literary Guild featured alternate and Doubleday Book Club; author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-24113-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2000




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