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The-Lighthouse
The Keeper
By Marguerite Poland
The author is South African and the story takes place in and around the southernmost point in Africa, the south eastern coast of South Africa.
Who should read this book?
• Those that are interested in the history and mystery of lighthouses, of the many stories these tall concrete edifices could tell if they had a voice.
• Those that have wondered what it was like to be a ‘Keeper’, to live the solitary and often dangerous life of these souls.
• The romantics, like me, that have fantasized what it would be like to spend a year or so, with my partner, living in a lighthouse. Perhaps buying one and converting it into a guesthouse with a restaurant.
• Those that would enjoy an easy and uncomplicated read that has a mixture of mystery, intrigue, romance, sorrow and humor that magnetizes you to the place of wanting to know how it all turns out in the end.

There are two principle actors, Hannes Harker and his wife Aletta on this stage and they are surrounded by an extensive supporting cast. The author very skillfully weaves all the individuals and their stories in and out of the plot as the warp and woof of a fine fabric.
Most of the story is acted out on a desolate island, inhabited by Lighthouse Keepers and Guano workers. The author describes the location as being, “on a barren bird-raddled plateau”.
There is drama and trauma on this desolate plateau, some visible for all the occupants to see and others, concealed in the secret silence of the various players.
Typically South African, there are many divides in this island community. Divides of race, culture rank and privilege. But equally typical are the solid characters that emerge in such an encounter of human interaction.
The story is essentially that of a man, Hannes, raised as a Keeper’s son, whose love of the ‘Light’ (Lighthouse) is engrained in the very core of his being and his wife, Aletta.
Whilst Aletta too, was fathered by a Keeper, she on the other hand hated the light. Yet it was accepted by the members of the Keepers community that in such a marriage; the man would love the light and offer her his unfailing loyalty and the woman would accept that she was a willing and contented second in this arrangement.
Like most wives of her ilk, Aletta develops her own solution to her situation and particularly that of being the wife of a keeper. Like women of intent, her solution ultimately works for her. Aletta is a wannabe dancer, so see how she deals with this dream on a lonely island.
The author has a handle on the incredible hardship of the community of keepers and their families. The terrible strain caused to husband, wife and children relationships. Yet, as each family of children is born into the community, the continuity of Keepers was ensured and the relationship strain had certain furtherance in sacrifice to the light.
The author also has a grip of the great importance of the effective and unfailing function of the light, for the safety of all those at sea in the era of the manually operated lighthouses.
The story travels with part of one generation running into another and is typical of the human condition, where the former generation molds the latter, without the latter fully understanding the many facts of the former’s experiences and why they, the offspring, have come to be who they are.
We are privy to the author’s third party commentary in being able to reveal to us the many events in the lives of the parents of both Hannes and Aletta, details which they never could understand, regarding their parents.
The stage opens with Hannes, who has been admitted to a hospital, amid much drama, after falling down the lighthouse stairs and being very seriously injured. He forms a companionable (?) relationship with the sister-in-charge, Rika, to whom he opens up the book of his life, during the course of his long stay in hospital (something Hannes has never done in his life). This enables you and me to get an opening view of the plot and take us to the central stage – the island.
On the island there is a small, but powerfully influencing effect on the story as a whole, from the Guano community, in the form of two characters. Misklip, who has long ago abandoned his family in the city, searching for oblivion, frequently with the aid of alcohol and ‘Blinkoogies’ (shiny eyes), a child from the Guano community, who is terrified of the sea and who ultimately becomes it’s victim.
There is a visitor from Aletta’s past life, also the son of a keeper, who comes to the island to relieve Hannes’s second in command. However, the relief has his own agenda for volunteering.
If you are a romantic, like me, you’ll enjoy both the read and the ending of the story.
Well, I think you have had enough from me. Buy the book from Amazon and enjoy, whilst I get a small commission, at no cost to you.
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