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The Lighthouse Road

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  755 ratings  ·  173 reviews
Against the wilds of sea and wood, a young immigrant woman settles into life outside Duluth in the 1890s, still shocked at finding herself alone in a new country, abandoned and adrift; in the early 1920s, her orphan son, now grown, falls in love with the one woman he shouldn’t and uses his best skills to build them their own small ark to escape. But their pasts travel with ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Unbridled Books
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Running the Rift by Naomi BenaronA Free Man by Aman SethiIt's Fine By Me by Per PettersonReinventing the Meal by Pavel G. SomovThe Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye
Goodreads First Reads
5th out of 5 books — 5 voters
Magic America by C.E. MedfordMoloka'i by Alan BrennertA Passage to India by E.M. ForsterBy the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls WilderOn the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Books With Place Names in the Title
54th out of 308 books — 30 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,233)
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Aaron Cance
Set at the cusp of the Twentieth Century, The Lighthouse Road is a masterfully reconstructed landscape that has long since been washed away by passing time. It is generously haunted by a broad cast of very real, old-world souls who inflict love and pain upon one another with the acuteness possibly only in the closest of human relationships. A study of human nature as stark as the frigid landscape upon which it is set, it's thoroughly engaging from the very beginning and Geye tells his tale with ...more
I have mentioned in the past that I am too literal a reader for literary books but every now and then I am offered one that strikes my fancy and I take a chance. The Lighthouse Road was one of those books and I was very glad that I did decide to read it. It made me think and I am finding that more often than not I want a book that makes me think. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy fluff but one cannot live on a diet of sugary sweets alone now, can one?

This book is more about relationships and the p
Laura (booksnob)
A journey across the ocean,
A young woman on her own,
A stark wilderness in northern Minnesota
in 1896.

Gunflint Trail.
The beginning of a small town, Grand Marias.
The Lighthouse Road.

A logging camp in the deep woods,
an apothecary in town
a fish house on Lake Superior.

Dogs. Wolves. Bears.
Oh boy.

Thea alone, pregnant, lost.
Rebekah found, transformed, hidden.
Hosea inventive, wealthy, deceptive.
Odd, hardworking, misunderstood, loved.

A motherless child.
An incestuous affair.

Boat building.
When you travel down The Lighthouse Road, you may notice warning signs. 'Warning, slight turn ahead', 'Be generally careful', 'Try not to kill pedestrians'; that sort of thing. You might think these warning signs unnecessary; what with the limited traffic, low speed limit and lack of recorded accidents. But hey, there's nothing wrong with a little advisory heads-up.

Because you can't warn motorists (or readers) enough. Say you're writing a light period novel about hard-working folk in the cold Am
In 1896 a young Norwegian immigrant woman dies shortly after giving birth in a small town in the northern wilderness of Minnesota. 25 years later her surviving son will discover the truth surrounding his mother's death - a truth that has been shaping his life and destiny - a truth that will destroy everything he believes about those he loves.

I became a huge fan of Peter Geye when I read Safe From the Sea last July. In The Lighthouse Road Geye once again displays his talent for creating realisti
Erika Robuck
Set in the 1920s and the 1890s in Minnesota, THE LIGHTHOUSE ROAD is the multi-generational story of a town of immigrants, orphans, and outcasts trying to make good lives against tough odds in the unforgiving wilds of a young country.

Thea is alone, pregnant, and scared until she finds love in her newborn son Odd (pronounced ‘Ode.’) Rebekah sells a piece of her soul for a place in the world, but can’t resist the lure of personal happiness. Hosea’s pride and intelligence fool him into believing he
I read this as part of the World Book Night Challenge. It was a story told in different times - of a young woman newly immigrated to the US from Norway in the 1890s and of her son, over 20 years later. It involves some discussion about boat building, not something that interests me or that I know anything about, but this wasn't a large part of the story. But I just never really got very caught up in the story.

I didn't feel very invested in the characters, although I was more interested in the st
Without the constant juggling of the timeline this book would have been a better read. Moving from Odd's birth through his life in flashforwards and flashbacks meant the narrative thread was often confused - what age was he? where was he living? what was going on? The prose also was erratic, ranging from beautifully sparse to nearly Melville-esque detail (as when Odd bought tools to finish his keel). Again, that's jarring for a reader.

Sadly, as much as I would have enjoyed reading about the Norw
A blurb on the cover of this book refers to it as "A cinematic thundercloud gusting across the northern landscape". I don't know, but to me it just seemed, to use the same metaphor, as a lowlaying dark cloud that meandered through the sky. In other words, pretty boring. I am usually drawn to Minnesota authors and those that write of Minnesota landscapes and people. But I couldn't wrap around any of these characters. There were no big surpises, no gasps of disbelief, no realizing that I didn't se ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
I feel like gushing, letting the clichés unleash in a flood of unholy praise. Using “unleash” like that? Cliché?

This was a great book. I loved it. First, the setting is novel. As a city girl who (tragically, inevitably) lives in the desert, I found myself wide-eyed and dazzled by Peter Geye’s snowy wilderness in the Midwest. Boats! Apothecaries! People named Hosea and Odd! A fish house! What’s a fish house?

But it’s the story, which is ultimately about survivors. People who make it. Though there
Melissa Klug
I was introduced to Peter Geye's first book, SAFE FROM THE SEA, a couple of years ago and immediately fell in love with the story of an estranged father and son, set on the stark shores of rural Minnesota. I was thrilled that he had a new book (and I'm fairly obsessed with the books from his publisher, Unbridled--they always work for me, period.) THE LIGHTHOUSE ROAD is another story featuring the wild terrain of the state I now call home--back in the late 19th and early 20th century. Like SAFE h ...more
Michele Yates
There are books you pick up and read when you have a moment here and there. And then there are books that beg to be anticipated and planned for. You can't wait to get to it, but you plan for a large block of quiet time, find your favorite reading nook, and block out everything else so you can savor every sentence. The Lighthouse Road is such a book.

Themes of family, abandonment, betrayal, immigration, wilderness. In particular, Peter Geye is masterful in creating very real characters and bringi
Oct 11, 2012 Sonya rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Peter Geye successfully weaves three timelines (late 1800s and early 1900s) and four distinct characters to tell the story of a family of sorts in a small town perched on the edge of Lake Superior. Most of the novel hinges on one-eyed Odd, an orphan, and the people who care for him, or try to. There is lots of trouble in this story, wolves and illness and pervasive melancholy, but people cluster together to fight against the dangers of animals and weather, as well as the internal forces that urg ...more
Lives of quiet desperation in cold, harsh Minnesota in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Four sad, depressing characters have their stories slowly revealed as the author takes the reader back and forth from the 1890s and the 1920s. There is a claustrophobic feel to the book as the characters struggle to live within very restricted geographical and emotional boundaries. Definitely atmospheric,moody and haunting. I received the book as a Goodreads giveaway, but try as might, I just couldn't ...more
Annie Michelle
A most excellent 5 star read
Leif Enger said it best..."The Lighthouse Road is like a cinematic thundercloud gusting across the northern landscape"
I very much wanted to read this book as it is set very close to where I live and I love nothing more than to read about places that I have lived.

Like a snowstorm seen in the distance rolling along the land this book starts out slowly, letting you get to know the characters and the landscape, as the words drift around in your head you become enmeshed
The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye feels like the frozen tundra and the heat of the tropics all at once as his eccentric characters hack their lives out of the wilderness outside Duluth, Minn., between the 1890s and 1920s in Gunflint. Odd is a young fisherman with his own small boat, whose mother died soon after he was born. Raised by the local apothecary owner, Hosea Grimm alongside his daughter Rebekah, Odd strives to make his market in the rough-around-the-edges town.

Geye’s narration shifts be
Margie Nash
This is a very interesting and unique book set in northern Minnesota on Lake Superior mostly in the winter. It begins in Nov. in 1896 with a young, innocent Norwegian immigrant, Thea, victim of a rape after she arrives, and now gives birth to a son, Odd. The aunt meant to greet her died, and the uncle was mentally unstable, so she was on her own--not speaking English. The story shifts back and forth between 1896 and 1920 as Odd becomes a young man,a skilled boat maker and fisherman. It's about T ...more
Laura de Leon
I found The Lighthouse Road to be an unusual, compelling book, with a setting that grabbed my attention and characters that made me think.

The best parts of this book for me were the characters of Odd and his mother, Thea. Odd's an unusual man with an unusual life, and that's fine. He'll do what needs to be done, but he'll put his own spin on it.

His mother's story was even more compelling. Thea left behind everything she knew to come to America. Unfortunately, she did not arrive to see the situa
Rob Slaven
Like many of my recent submissions this was a GoodReads giveaway. Unlike many of my recent submissions this book is wonderfully and carefully crafted not only in language but also in storyline.

Previous reviewers have complained that the timelines in this book are too complexly intertwined and hard to follow and while I will admit that there is a lot going on, the book very handily states the month and date of each chapter in the page heading. Any reader finding themselves confused can merely con
Marie Zhuikov
I read Peter Geye’s other book, “Safe from the Sea,” and I liked it, so I thought I would like this one. It did not disappoint. I’m not going to get into the plot (you can read that in the book’s description on this site) but I will tell you what I liked and what gave me pause.

The storytelling in this novel is wonderful. Event the “bad guy,” Hosea Grimm, is crafted with a complexity of character that shows the author’s deep understanding of human nature. The same goes for another potentially uns
I absolutely adored Peter Geye's first book Safe From the Sea. It was a wonderful father/son book. If you haven't read that one yet, I highly recommend it.

The Lighthouse Road was a little different. It was a historical novel set in two different time periods. One storyline followed Odd and his life in the 1920s. The other followed his mother, Thea Eide, in the 1890s and what it took for her to get from her home country to Lake Superior. Through flashbacks and memories we learn about the tragic c
The Short of It:

Geye has hit it out of the park again.

The Rest of It:

The story begins in the late 1890′s at a Minnesota logging camp. Thea Eide, an immigrant from Norway lands herself a position as a cook and after being raped by a visitor of the camp, finds herself pregnant with few prospects for raising the child. Hosea Grimm, who runs the apothecary and functions as the village doctor, gives her a place to stay and promises to help her with the child. Rebekah Grimm, also “saved” by Hosea some
I really like when an author can combine different time periods and stay consistent and "fill in the blanks" of the story as we drift along. Peter Geye does a magnificent job with this style of writing in The Lighthouse Road: A Novel. Odd's story was perfectly communicated even though we went from birth to adult to teen back to before his birth, etc. and it was never confusing. The prose and narrative ranks right up there with the best of them. Heart breaking, then mended and then broken again. ...more
new author does a very nice historical, family saga. hooo but what a family: hosea who moves to the north woods to start an apothecary, his first step....buying a 13 year girl from a whore house in chicago, then there is the young and innocent norwegian immigrant who gets to the north woods to help her uncle and aunt on their find aunty has just hung herself and uncle has went round the bend, oh but then she gets raped so has a baby but then she dies and baby is raised by hosea and hi ...more
I’m always a sucker for a good northwoods story and Peter Geye’s The Lighthouse Road certainly qualifies. Straightforward yet stylish, Geye carries us back and forth through the years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as smoothly as his protagonist Odd Eide’s home-crafted boat plies the waters of Lake Superior. While Odd is most definitely central to the story – the heartbreaking circumstances of his birth, his childhood, his secret love – the other characters who populate the icy roads ...more
I found this very enjoyable. I love a good historical novel about a time and place in American history of which I know nothing about. In this novel we have two entwined tales of Odd in the 20's and earlier, his mother who works at a logging camp as a cook. I have to admit that I was more engrossed with Thea's story than Odd's, but neither were uninteresting. What really drove the story for me was the little details. The tale of the dogs and Riverfish's ride was, I think, one of my favorite parts ...more
I am going to get the negative stuff out of the way first, and say that both of Geye's books lag at times and are at times weighed down by his use of jargon. Also, in this latest book, there seems to be some difficulty with dialect, e.g. there were moments toward the end when Odd seemed to start talking with a Southern twang.

With that said, Geye is one of my favorite authors. His books are filled with captivating imagery, intense vulnerability, and unapologetic tenderness. In his second book tho
Peter Geye has written a fine novel. His development of the main character, "Odd", felt authentic and compelling. Odd's mother was also a strong character that felt true and very loveable. In fact, every person in this story held my interest, and I hated to put the book down at every step.

My problem with Mr. Geye's story involves the last few sections. These did not feel credible,particularly the final phase of the lover.

The landscapes, Lake Superior, the life of a small town--as someone from Mi
I thought the book The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye would be a good book to read since I enjoy reading historical fiction and the book cover appealed to me. I didn't even finish reading it because the writing style was too difficult. The author goes back and forth in time frequently---sometimes I find that adds to the interest of the book---but not in this case. Sometimes the author leaped ahead and sometimes back in time---the transitions were just too difficult to follow. I found the writing ...more
Set mostly in a small lumber town on Lake Superior (with a section set in Duluth), this novel jumps around in time, mostly alternating between 1896 and 1919-1921. It tells the story of a brand-new immigrant from Norway, who arrives alone, with only a phrase-book knowledge of English, but dies shortly after her son is born, and her son 20-some years later. Their stories are intertwined with that of the village doctor/apothecary/merchant and the young woman he more or less adopts. The characters a ...more
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Peter Geye received his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PHD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and continues to live there with his wife and three children. This is his first novel. "
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