Historical fiction is my go-to genre for relaxation these days. I know the story itself is fiction, but most are based on real people or true events. Historical fiction reads often lead me to investigate the real lives and happenings behind the fictional accounts.
My latest two journeys into historical fiction were "The Widow Nash," by Jamie Harrison, and "The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter," by Hazel Gaynor.
"The Widow Nash" is, well, a Slog.
The synopsis for "The Widow Nash" intrigued me. After her father's death, main character Dulcy runs away from her home and violent ex-fiancé to build a new life under a different identity.
Can Dulcy create a believable life as a widow in a small Montana town? Will the ex-fiancé find her? Can she ever be free? Great setup. The execution? Not so much.
It took nearly 100 pages for Dulcy's father to die. That's not a spoiler - it's the beginning of the real story. But, did we have to be treated to every disgusting detail of what dying of syphilis was like when there were no cures?
Once Dulcy lands in a hastily chosen Montana location, we're introduced to a lot of different townspeople. By the time I got to the middle of the book, I lost track of who was who. And, in most cases, I didn't care. Descriptions of parties, dinners out, and tiny details made this book a lot longer than it needed to be.
I slogged through. I did want to know how it ended. But, I am not sure the journey was worth the slog.
Note: I do not believe "The Widow Nash" is based on any real person or event. If it is, the author does not reference it in her notes.
"The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter" is another story. And, what a good one it is.
I've always been intrigued by lighthouses. And, the women, yes women, who took care of them. The "Women Who Kept the Lights," by Mary Louise Clifford and J. Candace Clifford, is a fascinating illustrated history of female lighthouse keepers. It's a wonderful book if you can get your hands on it.
"The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter" is based on the true story of Grace Darling, who, in 1838, risked her life during a storm to help her father rescue shipwreck survivors. She became a Victorian-era heroine.
The book hit all the right notes for me. Based on a true story, well-written, a lighthouse, courageous women, believable characters, full of charm, and written by an author who has the same first name as one of my grandmothers. Doesn't get much better.
* Quote from "The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter," by Hazel Gaynor.