Marie Zhuikov's Reviews > The Lighthouse Road

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye
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it was amazing

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 unsympathetic character, Rebekah Grimm, Hosea’s “daughter.” She ends up doing something unthinkable to most women, yet readers can understand her plight because her character is so skillfully crafted.

There’s a reason this book won the Northeastern MN Book Award. The tale, set in the past, is full of all things northern Minnesotan: lumberjacks, Norwegian fishermen, Lake Superior, cold weather (even the summer scenes felt cold and stark to me), boats, wolves, and ravens (an unkindness of ravens, at that!)

Endings of novels are important to me. I’m of two minds about this one. Part of me admires the artfulness of it. Another part doesn’t like the tenuousness of it. The main character (Odd, pronounced Ode) and his son Harry are out on Lake Superior ice fishing, while Rebekah, who has become a madwoman, is watching out a window on shore. The wind has switched and fissures are forming. Despite this, Odd and Harry stay on the ice because they are having such good luck fishing. Readers are left to make up their own minds about what happens to them.

Anyone who is familiar with ice fishing knows the characters are not in a good situation. The most inane thing that could happen (besides nothing) is they float away on an ice floe and require rescue. The least inane thing is that they drown. Why would an author allow that possibility for characters that he took so long in crafting? I can see how readers could be put off by this – to read the whole book only to have the characters die in the end.

However, they don’t actually die in the story and such situations are all part of the risks of living close to nature. Perhaps the ending signifies how, as orphans, these characters are cast adrift in life. But the literalist in me wonders if it’s wise even to end with the whiff of the possibility of death.

In any event, it’s an awesome read, and thought-provoking.
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Reading Progress

March 8, 2013 – Shelved
August 19, 2013 – Started Reading
August 19, 2013 –
page 70
September 1, 2013 – Finished Reading

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