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Rarely do I encounter a book so engaging that I had to force myself to put it down to eat or sleep. This novel did not disappoint! It was vivid, and haunting, leaving me wanting more. The main character/heroine, Sara Stevenson is a feisty young red-head, with a good head on her shoulders, even though she becomes pregnant in her unwed state. her parents force her to live in a secluded and destitute area of Scotland, where she is made to cohabit a small cottage with the one who betrayed her, and the mysterious lighthouse keeper, Mr.Campbell. Sara learns just who she is, and what life has in store for her, and her fiery drive to succeed where others would see her fail, is captured beautifully within this story. This novel not only embodies the pure passion seen between young lovers, but also love that develops from wisdom and trust. It included all this, as well as incorporating and weaving a haunting ghost story into Sara's tale, that left chills down my arms as I read. I can hardly wait to read another Darci Hannah novel, and I anxiously await her next piece, coming soon this summer.
I must admit that the story caught my attention from the first page. Darci Hannah presents the reader with a protagonist worthy of our admiration and our sympathy as we watch her come to terms with her banishment and the relationships with the people around her. We urge her to become a more empathetic character and she does not let us down. The subsequent characters are well developed adding interest and depth to the novel. Certainly, the antagonist, William Campbell keeps the reader holding their breaths wanting to find out how his character will play out with Sara's. The tension ilicited between the two principal characters was nothing short of delicious! The story is crafted with beautifully delivered prose and a plot that keeps the reader's attention until the end. And that is where the story breaks down. The last chapter of the novel introduces the concept of time travel that is not woven into the previous chapters. When Sara is writing to the mysterious Alexander Seawell, there is no evidence to the reader, nor to Sara for that matter, that he does not exist in 1815. Even the introduction of James Chrichton into the narrative to add to the supposed mystery of the chronometer that Sara gave to her lover, Thomas Chrichton does not compel the reader to believe that the time period is anything but the present one. I found the last chapter a wash of detail after detail of the family tree to explain to Mr. Seawell how he got to the present Sara Chrichton, not the Sara Stevenson with whom he fell in love. Even though authors may take literary liberties with their fiction, in this case, it does not seem a credible attempt. Having said this, I still would recommend this book for the beauty of the prose and a story that is worth the read.
Edinburgh, 1814. Sarah Stevenson is the pampered daughter of Robert Stevenson, builder of lighthouses. Whilst on a boat tour, Sara meets and falls in love with sailor Thomas Crichton. Since Sara's parents would never consider Thomas a suitable match for her, the two plan to elope - but Sara ends up waiting in vain as Thomas never shows. Did he truly love her or was he just using her? A pregnant and broken-hearted Sara is banished by her family to the remote lighthouse at Cape Wrath, along with her maid Kate - the one who betrayed her secret lover to her parents and because of that Sara and Kate's relationship is somewhat tense - let alone her up and down relationship with William Campbell the current keeper of the light.
Just when Sara believes she might let Thomas go and regain some balance in her life, a package arrives for Sarah that upsets her new-found peace. Who is Alexander Seawell and how did he come in possession of Sara's gift to her beloved Thomas? Will Alexander be able to solve the mystery of Thomas' disappearance? Which man is destined for Sara, William or Alexander? Or will she find her true-love Thomas once again?
Well, you know I'm not telling. While I did enjoy this, the author just took too long getting to the big tah-dah and things started to drag on a bit. Written in the first person narrative (not my favorite) resulted in a wee bit too much of Sara's constant snooping into other people's business and searching their rooms. Bah. I really didn't warm up much to Sara, instead of the vibrant, independent lass she should have been she came across a bit too whiny and, well, annoying. Big as a house pregnant and she's walking the moors at 3:00 AM? Standing at the edge of those big cliffs over the sea without wondering if she just might slip and fall?
I'll pass on standing on the edge, thank you very much. In the end, I found this to be a good book just not great. As noted, I didn't warm much to Sara, nor pick up on any real chemistry between her and Thomas either, nor any emotional investment in any of the characters. The northern Scotland setting was lovely, but I would like to see that developed more as well - see Mary Stewart's Wildfire at Midnight and how she set the mood on the Isle of Skye. This is a nice first outing for a new author, but to compare this to Dame Du Maurier? I think not. 3.5/5 stars.
I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of The Exile of Sara Stevenson. It's not high literature nor is it a particularly informative work of historical fiction - I'd classify it as a historical romance. However, I enjoyed the picturesque setting of the coastal Scottish Highlands of the early 19th Century.
The novel is about a young woman, daughter of a famed lighthouse designer, who finds herself in an awkward predicament for a wealthy 19th century woman from a Calvinist family: she is pregnant and unmarried. The romantic Sara falls in love with a penniless sailor, notwithstanding her family's likely disapproval, but finds herself pregnant and abandoned by her lover after they make plans to elope. Sara finds herself banished to the lighthouse, along with her companion Kate (who betrayed her to her parents), Kate's husband, and William Campbell, the mysterious lighthouse keeper. The novel enters into a "fish out of water" story, as Sara struggles to adapt to her new life, far from Edinburgh and without the trappings of privilege. Simultaneously, she tries to figure out what happened to her beloved Thomas Chrichton, refusing to accept that he used her and abandoned her. The mystery is heightened after Sara receives a mysterious package and letter from an English stranger, leaving open the questions of whether Thomas was alive or dead and whether Thomas used and debauched Sara. Through her correspondence with this stranger, Sara tries to come to terms with her feelings about Thomas and her predicament. She also tries to come to terms with her companions, with whom she is often in conflict.
Unfortunately, the plot degenerated in the last quarter of the book. I had predicted Thomas Chrichton' whereabouts pretty early on as well as certain other plot developments relating to Sara's ultimate happiness. The predictability, for me, was not the most disappointing part of the last hundred pages, however. Instead, I really did not enjoy the supernatural element of the story. I don't want to elaborate on this to avoid spoiling the ending. Suffice it to say, though, that I felt that it came out of nowhere (in a contrived way, not in a good way) and didn't really add much to the plot. I also did not think it was particlarly well-executed.
Overall, The Exile of Sara Stevenson is a good read, though not a great one. I think readers of Historical Romance should enjoy this novel, notwithstanding the disappointing ending. 3.5 stars.
It's been a long time since I have read a book of this nature. I used to love to read the Historical Romance types. This was such a pleasure to read.
This is a story that takes place in the Higlands of Scotland in 1815. Sara Stevenson's parents sent her to Cape Wrath as a form of punishment for her poor behavior, becoming pregnant by a lowly sailor who abandoned her. Tom Crichton is the sailor that Sara falls in love with; they sneak around for months to see each other until one day they decide to run away and elope. Tom Crichton never shows up to meet her and she soon discovers she is pregnant, thus the exile to Cape Wrath.
The lightkeeper at Cape Wrath is William Campbell, a rough and dark man who seems haunted by his past. Sara and William soon learn they have a lot in common and an attraction begins between them. Also along with her is her lady's companion, Kate and her new husband Robbie who will be helping Mr. Campbell run the lighthouse. Sara is heartbroken and feeling sure her Thomas will sail back to her someday. She watchs the ships as they sail by and wishes for a sighting of her true love.
A mystery package arrives from Oxford with a watch she had given Thomas with a letter from a professor there. He states that he fought in a battle with her husband and gave him this watch to return to his wife if anything should happen to him. The real mystery is that he addresses his letter to Sara Crichton as if they were married and refers to the man as James Chricton. She responds to his letter with questions of her own wanting to find out the real circumstances of this and if her Thomas is really this James fellow.
To continue with the story would be a spoiler so I leave you with this. This is a love story that transcends time and death to reach through and touch you. I thouroughly enjoyed this book.
The only downside is that there were maybe a few loose ends not tied up for me but the story stands on it own and I loved it.
Sara Stevenson, the daughter of a lighthouse engineer/designer falls in love with a sailor (Thomas) who is beneath her station in society. Her father finds out and to break up the lovers, he exiles her to a lighthouse on Cape Wrath (most north-westerly point of mainland Scotland). The year is 1814 and Sara is a free-spirited and sassy young woman; not an easy personality to be at that time.
Sara is exiled along with her friend and companion, Kate and Kate's husband Robbie, the new lighthouse assistant. The lighthouse keeper, William Campbell is a very gruff and reclusive man. It's a very difficult life for all four living together & manning the light on this rugged and desolate outpost in the Atlantic Ocean. Adding to the misery is the fact that Kate has tattled to Sara's parents about her love affair. Kate and Sara were best friends but are now barely speaking. The author has captured the tension between the characters in the lighthouse and the remoteness of the setting.
The story is part mariner fairy tale, part historical fiction and part love story. The sexual tension and yearning between Sara and Thomas and later Sara and William is palpable. The author peels away the layers slowly to reveal William's story and Sara's maturing. I could not put this book down and read it within 24 hours.
The fairy tale side of the story comes near the end with a mysterious letter written by an Oxford historian to Sara. I won't ruin the story by revealing the climax. It is a clever storyline although a bit rushed like the author needed to tie up loose ends to complete the antecedent for this story.
The Cape Wrath lighthouse still stands and was designed by Robert Stevenson (Sara's father - although Sara is fiction). You can search the web: "Cape Wrath Lighthouse" for photos and information on visiting.