After finishing Lighthouse Cove, I wondered if a shot of insulin
might be in order. Now I like sweets; I even like sweet stories. But
this book was so unbearably sweet that I felt in danger of going into
shock. Too bad, because it has one of my favorite plots, the reunion of
two lovers whom fate has torn apart.
“Jack” Murphy is a renowned photojournalist who has come to Lighthouse
Cove in Maine to fulfill the last wish of her partner. Ziggie Bartolli
had died while the two were covering a nasty little revolt in Africa.
As he died in Jack’s arms, he made her promise to finish the book of
photos of his favorite place in all the world, a century old lighthouse.
Jack would rather be just about any place else than on the beautiful
coast of Maine, staying in a lighthouse.
We know that Jack is brilliant at her job, but lousy at her personal
life. We learn that nine years ago a young and enthusiastic Jack had
fallen in love with a handsome veterinary student. We also learn that
after two wondrous weeks of love, something had happened to separate the
two. We realize that Jack has never gotten over her lost love. And
we’re pretty sure that said lost love is going to turn up at the
Ah, the inexplicable coincidence, the improbable turn of events that
brings Tom Brownlow to the same place at the same time as his lost love.
How nice that an author can make the improbable happen. Never mind;
the plot required this unlikely turn of events.
Tom arrives one stormy night but not alone. With him is his eight and a
half year old daughter, the unwitting cause of that long ago separation.
Tom has brought Lucy to Lighthouse Cove because his daughter wants to
see where her long missing mother spent her summers. The seeing is very
important because Lucy is gradually going blind.
Jack would have cheerfully shown the pair the door, but that oh so
convenient storm makes this impossible. So Tom and Lucy spend the night
and when morning comes, Jack simply doesn’t have the heart to send Lucy
away. She wants so much to be where her mother set the story she wrote,
the story that is all the little girl has of her mother.
Predictable: that’s the word that immediately comes to mind in trying to
characterize this story. Lucy predictably melts Jack’s heart. Tom and
Jack predictably have never gotten over each other. Tom predictably has
trouble with the dangers of Jack’s job. The predictable locals charm in
predictable ways. Even the nature of the crisis that forces everyone to
face the truth is completely predictable.
The hero and heroine are as predictable as the plot. Jack is tough on
the outside, but hurting on the inside. Tom is the noble hero and
devoted father who has done his duty at the cost of his own happiness.
Neither is really all that interesting or unique.
Lucy is at the center of the story and her bravery in the face of the
advancing darkness is just so moving and heartrending. Yes indeed, my
heart was rended all right. Cates used every trick in her author’s bag
to make the reader feel so sorry for little Lucy. Unfortunately, she
created not a real child but rather a little doll.
All in all, Lighthouse Cove did not satisfy. Rather than
providing real food for the soul, it offered the emptiness of artificial
sweetener. And like saccharine, it left a less than pleasant