Susan Wiggs' The Lightkeeper displays love as one of the truly painful elements of human life. With brooding characters and a chilled plot, sympathy is rather hard to come by. The sharp edges of the hero are almost brutal in contrast with the beautiful scenery. However, the heroine's own mix of softness and aggressiveness makes her a very tangible center of the story. Jesse Morgan is a lighthouse keeper. He is a loner, relishing in the guilt he feels over his first wife's death. When he rescues Mary Dare, a beautiful Irish woman, from certain death on his beach, the die is cast - his life has changed. It has to be fate. The vital element of this story - well, Mary is pregnant. To make things really tragic for our lovebirds, Mary is pregnant by Jesse's brother-in-law. Mary tells of escaping Granger so she can keep her baby. Granger's plan is to take the baby and give it to his barren wife, Jesse's sister. In an effort to protect Mary and the baby, Jesse decides to marry her. Not for love, he tells himself, but to keep her safe. For all its soap-opera-ish plotwork, The Lightkeeper does show how love grows, often painfully, between two people who seem so desperately separated from each other. The addition of the baby to the scenario opens a new window of compassion in Jesse's heart. There are scenes between Jesse and the baby that are almost enough to bring tears to the eyes. The Lightkeeper is riddled with grief, betrayal, guilt, and anguish - almost to the point of drowning the poor lovers in the sea of emotion that surrounds them. However, to be completely fair, it is love that lies at the very soul of the plot. Although the plot is abrasive at times, the growth of the characters, in particular Jesse, is remarkable as the story progresses. So it comes to this - remember the lighthouse and the beam it delivers across the water; see it as the defining element of the story. It will guide the lovers to each other....it just takes time. The Lightkeeper is a tale of love searching through a sea of troubled emotions. The beautiful lighthouse on the cliff, putting it's beam out to guide ships - a true metaphor for Mary and the love she holds out to Jesse. Painful and dramatic. A cruel way to look at the love between two people, but a wonderful way to watch it grow.
From Literary Times