By: Erika Marks
Published by: NAL Trade October 2, 2012
Length: 368 pages
Lydia Harris was married to a lighthouse keeper, Linus. The year is 1877 and she was thrilled when he left his job as a fisherman and found this position, though it moved them to Maine and away from family they now had their own small home and he wasn’t daily going out to sea and danger. Lydia’s fear of the water was well known to all. She desperately wanted to have a child and create the kind of family she and Linus long for. As time goes on they are both happy and content with their routines ,her with her gardening and cooking and Linus with the chores of a lighthouse keeper. When Linus is asked to find a large boat for a wealthy man in town Lydia is a bit wary, but he assures her he will be safe. What happens to Linus and the other men after a planned pleasure cruise is the stuff myths are made of.
The other story within the book is that of Tess Patterson, her stepfather, Buzz and the town of Cradle Harbor Maine present day, the same town where Lydia and Linus Harris once lived. Home now to the annual Mermaid Festival. There is much history, legend and mystery surrounding the tale of the lighthouse keeper and his young wife. Tess and her mom came to Cradle Harbor and her mom fell in love with Buzz. Ruby was an artist, a painter who was regarded as a free spirit but who really was dealing with severe depression, perhaps even bi-polar disorder. Tess has a hard time seeing all this, she misses her mother, she holds on to the wrong man, and is a suffering artist herself, a wood carver. When a new man moves to town, one who arrives with questions and some animosity, he raises many eyebrows. He is the recipient of a gift, the lighthouse keepers cottage from a recently deceased local man. The historical society wants it donated. Tom Grace has a secret, and he’d like to keep it that way.
While this synopsis seems like oh so much is going on, trust me, Erika Marks has woven this tale so well you will be captivated in both developing story lines. First I was absorbed in the historical story of Lydia and her husband. Her pain in not conceiving a child is evident in all she does. She loves her husband very much but feels she has failed him. The continuing story and what happens to this small town and how others don’t admit to seeing the change in the men who were with Linus on the boat that day. I loved the legends of mermaids and the songs they sing to lure the men. I loved the wind chimes, more legend of keeping the mermaids songs hushed.
The town of Cradle Harbor is just teaming with activity! Mermaid Festival coming, Tess carving a commissioned piece, really a nod to her artistic talent, and the new man in town….Tom. They story of how he came to be in Maine is just wonderful, it takes you into the deep dark places that people hide from. Tragedies happen and there are always those who survive, left to carry on. Often there is guilt, questions of things that will never be, and these real life situations are played out in this book. Erika has such a way with this story, one it takes a while to really put together in your mind, and leaves you feeling sadness and yet kindness and rooting for the underdog, the people still healing from their own wounds.
I really enjoyed this book. I want to visit Maine and an old lighthouse so badly now!! I want to hear mermaid songs…and chimes. I’ve given this a 4.5 out of 5 stars and I highly recommend this book. It’s one that will not soon be forgotten.
Erika Marks first book LITTLE GALE GUMBO is also available in paperback and e book. Please visit Erika’s website and you may also find her on facebook and twitter. I’m happy to add that Erika will be one of the authors in attendance at the UCF Book Festival 2013. I can’t wait to meet her and chat about mermaids and more!!