The Lighthouse: A Novel

The Lighthouse: A Novel

By Michael O'Brien
Product Code: 9781621643661
★★★★★ ★★★★★ 5.00/5 Stars. (1 Review)

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Ethan McQuarry is a young lighthouse keeper on a tiny island, the rugged outcropping of easternmost Cape Breton Island on the Atlantic Ocean. A man without any family, he sees himself as a silent "vigilant", performing his duties courageously year after year, with an admirable sense of responsibility.

He cherishes his solitude and is grateful that his interactions with human beings are rare. Even so, he is haunted by his aloneness in the world and by a feeling that his life is meaningless. His courage, his integrity, his love of the sea and wildlife, of practical skills and of learning are, in the end, not enough. He is faced with internal storms and sometimes literal storms of terrifying power.

From time to time he becomes aware that messengers are sent to him from what he calls "the awakeness" in existence, "the listeningness." But he cannot at first recognize them as messengers nor understand what they might be telling him, until he finds himself caught up in catastrophic events, and begins to see the mysterious undercurrents of reality—and the hidden face of love.

"They that go down to the sea in ships, trading upon the waters, they see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep."
- Psalm 107: 23

Author: Michael D. O'Brien

Hardcover, 201 pages.

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★★★★★ ★★★★★
5.00/5 Stars out of 1 Review
Deeply Affecting Character Study
(Canada) | March 18th, 2022
A solitary man, unaccustomed to "human companionship," even to the point of not having any family members or close friends, lives full time on a tiny island as a lighthouse keeper. The nearest town is only accessible by wading through water, or by boat during high tide. To him, being alone is not lonesome, and it is preferable to being surrounded by others. Occasionally tourists visit his island and he has to grit his teeth and bear it... or he engages in casual conversation with others on the rare times that he visits the mainland, always glad to return home to the sound of bird calls, the rush of the ocean waves, and human silence. Thus, he believes that this is what he will always need and does not look for anything further. Yet... the Universe (God) is always listening and will guide him directly to those whom he is supposed to meet. Michael O'Brien is an incredible writer, and here he vividly brings this picture of small-town Nova Scotia to life. I resided for many years there in the past, before the days of social media and smartphones, "cancel culture," and "wokeness," and his depiction is pretty much spot-on for that bygone time period. The only thing that surprised me was the inclusion of the bird species Puffins in this narration, because I've always attributed them to the province of Newfoundland, which is where I remember seeing Puffin colonies. Perhaps despite my nearly two decades in Nova Scotia, I simply had not been aware that they colonize parts of that province too. Update: thanks to the search engines of the internet I've now been informed that Puffins do stop on small islands around Nova Scotia and that they can be seen by going on Bird Tours, if any tourists are interested.

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