The Last Lighthouse Keeper
by Alan Titchmarsh, contemporary (2000)
Pocket, 5.99, ISBN 0-671-01585-0

Sigh. The hero Will Elliott of The Last Lighthouse Keeper is so wounded yet so strong a man that my heart just goes out to him. TLLK starts out like something out of a Hallmark greeting card, but there's more than meets the eye here: it's also a gentle tale of facing grief and moving on in life. Now, if only the romance is more substantial!

In Pencurnow Cove, life looks like something out of Enid Blyton's version of a Cornish cove. Here, everyone's eccentric but share the same thought bubble, every bad guy is obviously a non-conformist foreigner compared the sweet sappy (local) majority, and bad novels and magazines are sold hush-hush under the country. In short, a town I'd gladly take a blowtorch to myself.

But really, who can blame these people? The locals are refugees from heartbreak, disappointments, and grievances from the more unpredictable world outside. Will himself is still mourning the deaths of his wife and child, and his favorite method of mourning is by sheer denial. When the lighthouse is closed, Will finds himself at loss. Deprived of an outlet to channel his energies into, he find himself with too much time to think and mourn and get depressed over lots of tiny little things.

When Amy Finn, failed ballerina, comes to town, Will finds that maybe it's time he wave goodbye to the past, confront his demons, and then face the future.

Amy plays a mere secondary role in this story which is strictly centered on Will's healing. And it's a well-done story, I must say. It flows gently and simply, the author never dipping into sap or sugar to make me cry, and the end result is one effective and moving drama (take note, Nicholas Sparks). And best of all, Will is a strong man who never prolong the pity party. This is a wonderful man who knows when to pull himself together, and even when he is at his all time low in melancholy, he is more sympathetic than grating.

If there is an annoying flaw, it's the other townspeople and the whole idyllic version of Perncurnow Cove. They are too sweet, too much of an ideal of a politician's vision of Happytown. I wonder if the local tourism board is sponsoring this book. But the whole sweetness never goes over-the-top to the point of ruining my whole reading experience. TLLK is a fine story with a little romance. Not enough for my liking, but it's still good enough.

Rating: 83

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