#Review The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by @JeanPendziwol 5* Genius @wnbooks #LiteraryFiction When you live on an island, nothing is secret. #FavouriteReads

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol

Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. She can no longer read the books she loves or see the paintings that move her, but her mind remains sharp and music fills the vacancy left by her blindness.

When her father’s journals are discovered on a shipwrecked boat, she enlists the help of a delinquent teen, Morgan, to read to her. As an unlikely friendship grows between them, Elizabeth is carried back to her childhood home – the isolated lighthouse on Porphyry Island, Lake Superior – and to the memory of her enigmatic twin sister Emily. But for Elizabeth, the faded pages of her father’s journals reveal more secrets than she anticipates and provide the key to a moment she has never understood. The day when she found a grave, marked with her own name…

My review:

Words alone can not express how much I love this novel. It is a beautiful, spell-binding novel. I had recently been reading psychological thrillers back to back. I decided to try something different and bought this novel online. What I would go on, to discover is that, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters are good for the soul. The novel takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, with a pairing of two unlikely protagonists. What is great about Elizabeth and Morgan is that they, truly are opposites of one another.
Yet they have so much in common….

The novel opens with Arnie Richardson stumbling across an abandoned boat called Wind Dancer. He is disheartened to find Charlie Livingstone missing. But what he finds onboard, is the basis of this novel. The journals of Elizabeth’s father.

Morgan is a young local teenager, a rebel without a cause and all round angry youth. Having recently been caught in the act of graffiti; she is coerced into completing restorative rehabilitation, at the Boreal retirement home. It is at the retirement home, that she comes across Elizabeth. Morgan is mouthy and in need of a humble approach to life. She refers to those who sent her to the home as ‘do-gooders’ and those living there as ‘rich old folk’. Morgan needs bringing back to reality and Elizabeth and her story are just the medicine she needs.

‘Fear can turn to anger so quickly; she is afraid of what life can bring and mad at the world because of it’
Elizabeth on Morgan

Elizabeth has declining eye sight, she can no longer read the newly discovered journals. Through a bizarre twist of fate, Morgan agrees to help. But Elizabeth is clever and cunning, she already has Morgan weighed up, having read her character at every interaction. When she begins to tell Morgan of her life at Porphyry Island. Morgan isn’t expecting quite the dramatic story she gets.

‘The Island was no place for the weak’

Morgan has a young boyfriend Derrick, he is a bad influence on the impressionable young teen. Morgan is desperate for love and validation and surviving foster care has taken an emotional toll on Morgan. When she begins to read the journals she has no idea, just how much the story will open her eyes and her heart.

‘I’m invisible except to the one person who is blind’ – Morgan

The journals begin in 1917 but the story they hold, echo’s long into the future. They begin with Elizabeth’s father’s first job as a lightkeeper and his eventual post at Porphyry Island. The family, mother Lil, brother’s Charlie and Peter and twin sister Emily. Life as a lightkeeper is far from easy. The family had an assistant Greyson, a damaged veteran of the Great war, who disappears under mysterious circumstances. They’ve known loss and hardship, yet their story warms your heart.

War and death can silence the strongest of men

Morgan reads the journals to Elizabeth and in turn, Elizabeth is able to expand further. The journal detailing 1930-1933 and the twins birth, is missing. Which leaves Elizabeth heartbroken, as she attempts to find some answers to questions she has had for decades. The novel covers the fierce connection between the twins, their silent language and bond. When the story seeps into Morgan’s heart; she begins to see her relationship with Derrick in a new light and the story aids her in her own ‘coming of age’ story.

The story is broken into three parts and part two ‘ghosts’ explores the possible separation of the twins and their upbringing. The discussion between Elizabeth and Morgan covers various themes; as told by the various characters in Elizabeth’s past. Whether it’s the mental trauma of ww2 on soldiers or the mental strength needed to live in near seclusion on the Island. But nothing can prepare you for the moment Elizabeth comes across her own grave stone…..

‘I was left to exist as a ghost’

Morgan and Elizabeth debate the need to know your past.
Why does Elizabeth desire the answers now, in her old age?

“Don’t you think that when you know your past, it can make a difference to your present? And your future too?”

The sentimental message of the story hits deep with Morgan. She has never known her biological parents. She was raised by her grandfather, whom she misses deeply. When he passed away, there was no one else to care for her and she began her journey in the care system. As the story continues to develop, the friendship between Elizabeth and Morgan goes from strength to strength. Perhaps Morgan has found the unlikeliest of friends, in the unlikeliest of places.

“Love blinds us. It is a thief”

“There is, perhaps, more of the story you need to know”

Life on the Island of Porphyry is tough.
For Elizabeth and Emily, a lone wolf, stalks their every move.

For me personally the novel brought back many, many happy memories. It reminded me of deep conversations with my own grandmother. The lessons she would inadvertently teach me, with her stories of her past and people she had known.
I found those aspects of the story very moving.

I would describe the novel as modern literary with historical roots. The story of the The Lightkeeper’s Daughters, is incredibly powerful and haunting. The secrets of the past brought tears to my eyes and it will be a story, I won’t forget.
5* Genius

Jean E. Pendziwol

#BlogTour #GuestPost Novels in translation #BlueNight by @ohneKlippo Simone Buchholz #Krimi Translated by @FwdTranslations Rachel Ward @OrendaBooks #NewRelease #CrimeFiction

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz
Translated by Rachel Ward

After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital – almost every bone in his body broken, a finger cut off, and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles – Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived… Fresh, fiendishly fast-paced and full of devious twists and all the hard-boiled poetry and acerbic wit of the best noir, Blue Night marks the stunning start of a brilliant new crime series, from one of Germany’s bestselling authors.

#GuestPost by Rachel ward:

There isn’t really such a thing as a typical day for me as a translator, as everything varies so much from one project to another. I was working on Blue Night at the same time as translating a book on the history of human rights policy in the 20th century, so I’d work on that in the mornings and switch to Riley’s Hamburg in the afternoons.

Both books had their own set of challenges. The human rights book is long, dense and complex, and it involved a lot of untangling convoluted academic sentences, trying to get to grips with what the author wanted to say. So Blue Night was a lot more fun to work on but it had a whole set of difficulties of its own, starting with the self-doubt. Could I do this? Could I really recreate Riley’s voice in English? One of the things I love so much about Simone’s text is the way every word is precisely placed, carefully chosen, doing its job. Could I really have the nerve to pull off the same trick in another language that works so differently? Would it risk tipping over into a Chandleresque pastiche?

There were linguistic difficulties, cultural differences, the need to convey the sense of Hamburg (a city I’ve never visited, but long to see) and occasional snippets of Austrian and Hamburg dialect. My first attempt at Joe’s slipping into Austrian dialect, reverting to childhood speech as he falls asleep, was “I were a good lad, a right good lad.” It mirrors the original quite nicely, except that then he sounded like he came from Yorkshire… I’ve done my best by the voice and tried to convey the same effects, even if not always by the same means.

For my first book translation, I was working at a rickety computer desk with my dictionary in my lap, dial-up internet (remember that?) and little feedback from anyone but my very patient husband. I could use the university library to find bigger dictionaries, and more technical ones, but now I’m staggered by how few resources I used. Now, with all the wonders of the internet at my disposal, I can research practically any subject under the sun without moving from my desk. I turned to friends and colleagues in real life conversation, professional forums and social media, and they provided much needed help, inspiration and flashes of genius. We discussed slang terms for eyes (English doesn’t have enough that don’t sound horribly dated – ogles, peepers…?!), football terminology, how to convey in English what an Austrian accent sounds like to a German and much else besides.

To take one example, when Riley travels to Leipzig, she visits a bar called the Ost-Pol, and Simone’s description of it is a typical of her style. I was struggling with the sentence, so I turned to a Facebook group for translators working between German and English. In the course of the conversation, it turned out that not only was this a real bar, but that one of the group members had been there the night before. Now I had an eye-witness of the place to help me fine-tune the translation. And here’s what we ended up with:

“’At the Ost-Pol,’ Wieczorkowski said earlier, when I asked him the best place to get a few beers.
‘Like the North or South Poles, but in the East.’
I can’t think of a name that would suit this place better. Clear and uncompromising and dark and glorious and perfectly off-beat. The predominant colours are light brown, dark brown, and orange, or all at once, preferably in decades-old wavy or checked patterns. All the men have untrimmed beards; lots of them are wearing peculiar caps. A punk band is playing in the next door room. They’re torturing their guitars; a woman with a very loud and very sad voice sings: Now it’s broken.”

Simone Buchholz
Via Orenda Books

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