Against the wilds of sea and wood, a young immigrant woman settles into life outside Duluth in the 1890s, still shocked at finding herself alone in a new country, abandoned and adrift. In the early 1920s, her son, now grown, falls in love with the one woman he shouldn’t and uses his best skills to build them their own small ark to escape. But their pasts travel with them, threatening to capsize even their fragile hope. In this triumphant new novel, Peter Geye has crafted another deeply moving tale of a misbegotten family shaped by the rough landscape where they live at the mercy of wildlife and weather—and by the rough edges of their own breaking hearts. (Summary and cover graphic provided by Unbridled Books.)
With The Lighthouse Road Peter Geye has once again captured both the icy beauty and poignant humanity amidst the wilderness and hearts of Minnesota. The Lighthouse Road traces the life of Odd Einar, a boy born to a logging camp cook in 1896. Odd’s story is one of love, heartbreak, and ultimately happiness. His story is told through narratives that take place in the 1890s and 1920s from the point of view of Odd and the others who made him the man he would become.
Odd’s mother Thea, died shortly after Odd’s birth and Geye quickly captivates readers with the mystery surrounding Odd’s birth and his mother’s unfortunate death. Hosea Grimm fascinated me from the time he first appeared on the page. Grimm, owner of the town apothecary and the man who delivered Odd, has his hand in every bit of business in the town of Gunflint. When Odd’s mother passes away and (for reasons found out later in the book) leaves Odd without a father, Grimm raises Odd with the help of his “daughter” Rebekah. Odd’s childhood is complicated, and Grimm’s role as a father figure seems genuine at first glance. Though readers soon learn the name Grimm is a good fit for a man like Hosea. Throughout his childhood Odd develops a sibling-like bond with the much older Rebekah. Over time this bond develops into something more and Rebekah becomes pregnant. Now in his early 20s Odd must come to a decision to escape the clutches of Hosea with Rebekah at his side. In the process of leaving the only place he has ever known, Odd discovers more about his past than he ever thought he would.
I thoroughly enjoyed Peter Geye’s debut novel Safe From The Sea and his follow up surpasses the magnificence of his debut. The Lighthouse Road once again displays Geye’s immense talent for making the setting of the novel an element as important and fascinating as the characters themselves. Peter Geye has also created a memorable cast of characters including innocent, tragic Thea (Odd’s mother), sinister Grimm, complicated Rebekah, and noble Odd. All of whom will stay with readers long after they finish reading The Lighthouse Road. I highly recommend this one!
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