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The Lightkeeper's Wife

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  215 ratings  ·  46 reviews
A woman at the end of her life, aman unable to restart his, and ahistory of guilty secrets and things left unsaid—this is a powerful, moving novel oflove, loss, and family

Elderly and in poor health, Mary fulfills her wish to herself to live out her last days on Bruny Island off of Tasmania,with only her regrets and memories for company. Her late husband was the lighthousek
Paperback, 386 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Allen & Unwin (first published February 2001)
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Kate Maher
I found this book incredibly moving and beautiful. It showcased a magical part of the world and told the complex stories of some well developed characters. What touched me most was the positive way in which the author wrote about Mary's end of life journey and that of her loved ones. This subject is such a hard one for our society to contemplate and deal with and I think what Karen Viggers has done here it in a manner that allows the reader insight into the human spirit and how to allow loved on ...more
You can't always trust reviews. Lots of readers gave this one or two stars. I found it an interesting book. The story is character driven and written from two viewpoints of mother and youngest son. Seventy-seven year old Mary Mason is in poor health, and a recently delivered letter motivates her to return to Bruny Island where she spent most of her life as a lighthouse keeper's wife. The family is horrified when they find out what she has done - her daughter has been planning to put her in a nur ...more
OK holiday reading. Predictable story line. Dull and repetitive in places. I didn't really connect with the characters. No real twists in the plot except for a mixed up sort of relationship with the one of the main characters. A slightly dysfunctional family; elderly doddery parent and a handful of unfulfilled dreams and lifes disappointments. All in all a bit too much like a normal life to be really entertaining. The dog is the star.
Lily Mulholland
I'm not quite sure what to make of this book. It was two stories interwoven: the story of a dying woman and her secrets intermeshed with the story of her youngest son, both tragics in love.

What I liked:
The settings - Bruny Island is one of my favourite places in the world - for the uninitiated, it's south of Hobart, the capital of Australia's island state, Tasmania. Mary's story is set on Bruny and the descriptions of that wind-swept, idyllic and wild place made me long to be there. Tom's story
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘We are all just a breath away from memories.’

Mary Mason is an elderly woman in poor health, living alone in Hobart, Tasmania. The delivery of a letter acts as a catalyst: she chooses to return to Bruny Island and to memories of her past. Mary has a decision to make, about a secret she’s kept for decades. And while she’s considering whether to destroy the letter or pass it on to the person it’s addressed to, she’d rather be on Bruny Island where she once lived as the lighthouse keeper’s wife. Sh
If you are feeling a bit 'down', don't read this novel. It is as grey and morose as the Tasmanian weather where it is set.

The book blurb states that "The Lightkeeper's Wife is a moving story of love, loss and family." Well, it's a theme that has been done to death, and a lot better too. For a start it's more about the Lightkeeper's son, not the wife, and there Viggers is totally unable to write a sympathetic New Age male character without him coming across as pathetic and feminine.

I was complete

I really liked even though romance was a theme. Extremely evocative description of time, and particularly place. I am familiar with the setting but the powerful imagery provokes a desire to revisit. Only problem with this novel is the relationship between Leon, the ranger, and Mary. Finished this quickly which is also a recommendation. This is better written than past the shadows by favel parrett, short listed for miles Franklin
Eliza Guest
Do not read this book if you have a short attention span. The reason I picked this book up was because I liked Karen Viggers' other book, The Stranding. I can't say I like this one as much. I like the setting. I like the descriptions. But I find that this book moves really, really slowly.
At this point in time I'm half way through The Lightkeeper's Wife, and I still can't really tell where the story is heading. Yes, it is quite repetitive, as the other reviews will tell you. Quite a few chapters
Tony Nielsen
I am ambivalent about this book. It had the potential to be very good and I nearly gave it a 2 star which is probably more accurate. The characters are sometimes wooden and the plot is rather predictable. Amongst all of that it did engage me most of the way. I am a sucker for Australioan novels which maybe is why I perservered.
I really, really enjoyed this. I thought it was going to be something belonging in the light and frothy genre of chick-lit/romance fiction and instead it was this extraordinary beautiful, gentle read about Mary, an elderly woman moving out to Bruny Island to wait for her death, and Tom, her son, haunted by a one-time visit to Antarctica.

Karen Viggers has a clear skill in re-creating the atmosphere of those incredible locations. Bruny Island, an island off the south coast of Tasmania, is beautifu
The star of this book is undoubtedly Bruny Island. Viggers descriptions beautifully capture the bleak beauty and wildness of this small island off the south of Tasmania and the challenges of living there. Unfortunately the plotting is predictable and has some serious flaws. For example, I couldn't believe that the National Parks would accept responsibility for the care of an elderly woman. The writing can become repetitive and characters' motivation and behaviour are wordily described rather tha ...more
I loved the layers in story and also the descriptions of Hobart and bruny island. Highly recommend.
A man arrives with a letter, which prompts the elderly Mary Mason to flee to Tasmania’s Bruny Island, where she once lived for many years at the lighthouse. Mary is troubled by both the letter and the man who brought it. She intends to remain on the island, alone with her thoughts, communing with her long-dead husband and, a bit too conveniently, avoiding the nursing home her daughter has prepared for her. While her three children are opposed, they remain in Hobart, ineffectively bickering about ...more
Mary is an old woman, nearing the end of her life. She does not want to spend her last days in a nursing home with tubes and wires coming in and out of her, as she knows her oldest daughter would like. No, she wants to go back to Bruny, back to the where the lighthouse is. Back to where she and Jack raised 3 children. He was the keeper of the lighthouse. It was a magical place to live. Beautiful. Nature in its purest form all around them. Birds to watch, beaches to explore, ect. But also raw wi ...more
Donna Nicoll
This is a beautifully told story of an old woman, who knows she has not long to live and goes back to the island where she was most happiest in her life. It intermingles with the past and present and culminates in a satisfying ending. What I most loved about this book was the beautiful writing. The first page starts with, ' the knock on the door bounced down the hallway'. I loved it and highly recommend this Australian author.
An interesting story in a part of the world of which I had no knowledge, the southern coast of Australia and Antarctica. Lighthouses are always intriguing. The vivid descriptions of the geography and wildlife were worth the read, however, a well developed story told from two complex personalities.
Incredibly moving, wonderfully touching & ultimately fulfilling.

This book is about all the things that are unspoken and weaves the words in a beautiful manner... Some of the themes are moving & I think a middle ground is found with whoever the reader may be.

Worthwhile, pleasant read.
I had high hopes, but they were dashed as I tried to plod my way through this story. Loved the sound of it, so much potential, but a bit too slow for me. Abandoned halfway through.
Quite lovely I thought; very moving. Mind you i was reading it whilst it was also the anniversary of my own mother's death. The Lighthouse keeper's wife was sympathetically written and her plight (and approach) believable. The character of her son was also engrossing and the peripheral characters credible and completed the picture for me. The landscape another character in its own right, but the one who stole the show for me was Jess the dog. Explored the actions and emotions of a dog beautifull ...more
Cathy Smith
Loved the descriptions of very familiar places in Southern Tasmania. The action and plot was pretty slow, but I liked the character of Mary enough to sustain me. Tom was a frustrating character who seemed much younger than his age. His restlessness and lack of self identity was difficult to connect with as the first person POV character. The role of the letter was very predictable but did spur on my reading to the final pages. Kind of wish the letter revealed itself much earlier though.

Miko Lee
A hard read after moms death. But a lovely story told about a dying elderly woman in Australia who spends her last days out on the tiny island where much of her life past. Opening with a letter whose contents are not revealed until the final pages. A complicated family tale of loss, secrets, desires and mysteries. With details on the youngest sons season and fascination with Antarctica. I found the sections of Mary slipping in and out of the past and present most fascinating. Her experiences wer ...more
Beautiful setting, beautiful characters, delightful descriptions. Story a little slow, but a great story of relationships.
Started out with promise and was an easy read, but not my favorite book.
Rebecca Kent
Lack lustre. Technically nothing wrong with the book, just a bit 'meh'
Tessa Baker
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was easy to read, easy to follow and the story had enough unfolding situations to make you keep wanting to read on.

Both of the main characters in the book, Mary and Tom were easy to love, Leon was lovely too. The story was written in such a way that allows the reader to really feel as if they were a part of the scene that had been set.

I'm not sure whether it is my absolute love for Tasmania or the fact that I was there at the time of reading but I would definit
Mandy Oliver
This book is not a gripping read, and I found myself taking a while to get through it. It left me nostalgic for Tasmania, and I could appreciate the characters need for isolation and appreciation of the raw beauty of the environment, particularly around Bruny Island. I found the description of life in the Antarctic and the long term effect on those who work there fascinating. Whilst the story of the two main characters ambled along, in the end the reader was left reflecting on the realities of l ...more
Patricia Boland
Amazing description, I felt the full force of the wind as the story unfolded.
This is a lovely story which was neither riveting nor boring. The descriptions of living a solitudinous life in southern Tasmania was well presented.
I was really able to relate to the Antarctic experience, not because I have been there, but because I felt so similar after I returned from a very long (years) stint in a remote Australian environment. I loved Tom and felt so much empathy for his situation. I was enchanted with the description of the coastline and the control of the weather. I wasn't so taken with the Adam situation, but overall I was happy to stay up late and finish the novel.
Dale Harcombe
I really liked this when I read it some years ago.
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Karen Viggers was born in Melbourne, Australia, and grew up in the Dandenong Ranges riding horses and writing stories. She studied Veterinary Science at Melbourne University, and then worked in mixed animal practice for seven years before completing a PhD at the Australian National University, Canberra, in wildlife health from which she published numerous scientific papers.

Since then she has worke
More about Karen Viggers...
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