Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Middle Watch by Loretta Proctor

Middle Watch is a time when a man alone on a lighthouse in those wee small hours feels he’s the only person in the world

A man awake and alone in the darkness of the night has time to think, and sometimes those thoughts turn towards revenge and hate.

Bridie O’Neill was taken in as a baby by Dad Joe, whom she adores as if he were her real father. Unfortunately, Joe is away at sea most of the time and Bridie has grown up under the thumb of his mean-spirited wife, Millie, and her two bullying sons. The only joy in her life comes from the beautiful coastline near their home and Joe’s occasional visits.

When things come to a head between Bridie and Millie, Joe realises he needs to take Bridie - and himself - away from his poisonous wife. He starts a job as a lighthouse keeper at Longships Light. Bridie’s life is transformed by this new life close to the wild Cornish seas. There she meets the dark, brooding Ryan, son of the Principal Keeper. The two young people fall deeply in love with one another.

But Joe’s family are not ready to let Bridie go. She is haunted by the idea that Millie will come after her, and Joe’s older son Jim is starting to look at Bridie with a most unbrotherly interest. Wanting to escape the emotional turmoil and prove herself, Bridie sets out on her own to find work in London – but her actions set forth a chain of events that will end in tragedy on a lonely lighthouse amongst the crashing waves of the sea…

When Bridie is orphaned, she is sent to live with her father’s best friend and his wife. Although her foster father is a kind loving man, but is often away from home for work. So Bridie is often left alone with her cruel and abusive foster mother and her two sons. For Bridie, there is no escape and she lives for the day when she can leave. When her foster father learns of Bridie’s abuse, he accepts a job as a lighthouse keeper and moves out of the house, taking Bridie with him. As Bridie happily settles in her new life, she sets out to become her own woman. As she grows to womanhood she is torn by two young men who both love her – Jim, the son of her foster parents, and Ryan, the son of her new foster mother.

In this wonderfully written character driven novel, author Loretta Proctor creates beautifully flawed characters that are easily identifiable with, but that also create a steady tension from start to finish of this wonderful book. Add to that some vivid descriptions of scenery, ever-evolving characters, and a conflict-ridden story line, and you have an excellent historical novel. There is a terrific surprise ending that left me satisfied. This is a fantastic read, one I highly recommend.