Lighthouse Keeper

( 21 )

Overview

From the acclaimed author of The Last Valentine comes an unforgettable story about family, loss, and eternal love. Bestselling writer James Michael Pratt once again touches our emotions and our spirit as only a great writer can...

Nine-year-old Peter O'Banyon's life changes forever when his family dies in an accident. Orphaned, he goes to live with his garrulous Uncle Billy, the keeper of the Port Hope Lighthouse in Massachusetts. There, as the beacon leads sailors safely home, ...

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The Lighthouse Keeper

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Overview

From the acclaimed author of The Last Valentine comes an unforgettable story about family, loss, and eternal love. Bestselling writer James Michael Pratt once again touches our emotions and our spirit as only a great writer can...

Nine-year-old Peter O'Banyon's life changes forever when his family dies in an accident. Orphaned, he goes to live with his garrulous Uncle Billy, the keeper of the Port Hope Lighthouse in Massachusetts. There, as the beacon leads sailors safely home, Peter learns an astonishing truth about Billy's past—and the power of love. This message guides Peter's life, even when World War II's brutality rocks his faith, even when he returns to his young bride and an unimaginable tragedy. Now, in the final days of his own life, Peter needs to pass on the lighthouse keeper's secrets to his own daughter, but to do it may take nothing less than a miracle....

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This is a novel with a message, but, fortunately, it's not too heavy-handed until it comes to the credits, where it gets a bit sentimental. Otherwise, this is a good tale that draws the listener in, no matter how jaded or cynical. This is not about lighthouses at all but rather a three-generation saga about an Irish American family who find some meaning in being the keepers of Port Hope Lighthouse. Peter O'Banyon, racked with cancer, is telling his life story to his artist daughter as they visit the lighthouse for the last time. After losing his parents in a terrible car crash, Peter was raised by his Uncle Billie, who came to be keeper of the lighthouse after the death of his own wife and young son. Billie keeps a log and finds that keeping the light burning is really a metaphor for keeping hope alive. James Daniels does a good job of making each character come to life and providing just the right amount of drama. Don't listen to learn accurate information about lighthouses; this isn't history but rather a pleasant, uplifting experience. Recommended for all public libraries. Nancy Paul, Brandon P.L., WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"A tale that goes straight to the heart."—Booklist

"Pratt...[shows] that the human spirit is like a lighthouse, capable of shining though the most devastating storms."—Publishers Weekly

"A return ticket to Bridges of Madison County territory."—People on The Last Valentine

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312241131
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 257
  • Sales rank: 808,589
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

James Michael Pratt is a speaker with the Stephen Covey Institute, and the author of The Lighthouse Keeper, available from Brilliance Audio. He lives in Provo, Utah, with his wife and children.
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Read an Excerpt



Chapter One

THE OCEAN never changed. Maybe that's why Peter O'Banyon loved it so very much. The ebb and flow of her vast tides were reliable. He aged, but she stayed the same. Her waves, currents, and perpetual deepness awed him; they were never ending, like eternity. Eternity meant more to him now that he was about to set foot upon its shore.

    A gentle warm breeze tussled his silvery hair, and his eyes closed meditatively. It was as if Uncle Billie had just patted him on the head, "You're becomin' a right smart and handsome lad, Peter. It makes me proud. Go on now, enjoy your day with Anna."

    On the inside, it felt like 1942, and the cliff upon which he now sat was then a rolling hill of grasses and sand that tumbled down to the beach. It had not been eroded by time—not a shear drop as it now was.

    Peter opened his eyes and gazed down to his blanket-covered lap. His daughter had laid the old lighthouse logbook and a pen there as he had asked. He reached into his overcoat pocket and pulled a crumpled and considerably age-worn letter from a time-yellowed envelope.

    With his free hand, though trembling, he shuffled through the tattered and frayed logbook until he found the final blank page at the end. Placing the letter and envelope in the crease for a page marker, he began to methodically spell out his final impressions to bring this lighthouse logbook to a seamless conclusion:

    "Port Hope Island Lighthouse is empty now except for the occasional tourist, who on Saturday mornings pays the statepark fee of $3.50 to climb thestairs and look out over the ocean from the majestic cliff home that I have known. I first called it home with my Uncle Billie, then with my beloved Anna. But its very emptiness offers a poetic soliloquy of sorts, if one listens hard enough.

    "It is as if the old lighthouse keeper is haunting the halls, striking a match to the 1500-watt-candlepower oil lantern that used to cast a beam across the bay to guide so many seafarers safely to shore. None of the mariners from the past would have ever seen the lightkeeper, but I grew up knowing they saw his flame. One hundred times one thousand must have been grateful to see it there burning brightly during the gales and storms that lashed the New England coast from the 1920s to 1943 when he faithfully manned his watch.

    "The lighthouse stood silently majestic then as it does now, a pinprick of illumination in the deep blue darkness, but its message was loud enough then. `Aye, laddie,' he would say to me, `A lightkeeper never knows who he touches with the toil of his hands while keepin' the flame alive.'

    "The old light went out with him some fifty-five years ago. A newer, more powerful beacon has been built inland with radar navigation, making the old Port Hope Lighthouse obsolete. I often wondered if my uncle, the seasoned seafarer, ever felt like he too was becoming `obsolete,' a relic of bygone times—when individual men made such a difference; when machines where no match for their brains or brawn.

    "William Robert O'Banyon, `Uncle Billie,' made me what I was, what I became. From a small boy of ten, I grew up with him on the tiny outer island off Massachusetts' larger, more famous Nantucket. He was my `schoolmaster of life,' as he often reminded me.

    "All I know now, as I look back, is if Uncle Billie was my original `schoolmaster,' then Anna was the one who brought to me the gentleness and love for life I have known. I never knew, nor ever wanted to know, another like her.

    "I realize now, as I gaze down to the bay, jotting these notes in the lighthouse log, that perhaps it is my final farewell to this place that I have loved so well."


Peter O'Banyon set the habitually handled, black, leatherbound logbook on his lap. His daughter had made sure he was comfortable, a blanket covering his shoulders as he sat in the wheelchair eyeing the splendor of twilight. This was his favorite time of day, though at times it seemed a melancholy hour, watching the fading sun turn a luminescent blue sea into a shimmering yellow, then back to deep blueness. From the southern point of the island, where the lighthouse sat, he had a perfect advantage to enjoy sunrise or sunset. Now, sunset accented the deep blueness that also seemed to fill his soul.

    He looked up into the sky and watched the progeny from seagulls which had flown overhead five decades before and was soothed by the noisy cacophony as they were carried on their wings by a light offshore breeze.

    Some things never change, he thought. It amused him now to watch the seabirds swoop down from the cliffside heights to the beach and pier below, squawking and grousing over bits and pieces of churned up sea life that washed to shore. "I knew your great-great grandparents," he said aloud, as if they could understand that his knowing their past could make the present all the more interesting to them. People are like seagulls, he thought.


Memory was to Peter as a resuscitating breath was to the dying. He relied heavily upon it. It awakened all that was good, the golden strands of life, all that had been right in living fully without regret. And, oh, how good, but brief, it had been with Anna.

    He focused intently on the pier now as he had for fifty-seven full years of Saturdays at sunset. He never missed his rendezvous, even though the last few years of sickness from cancer had him confined to bed rest at his daughter Kathleen's home on Nantucket Island. Now the doctors had given him weeks, at best, but with their permission and Kathleen's loving understanding, she had brought him here once more.

    Peter pulled the withered letter from the logbook pages marking his final entry. He looked down on it. His watering eyes couldn't read the words, but he had them memorized now, and he clutched the yellowed paper as if it were holy script—it had indeed seemed so to him.

    "What happened?" he whispered to himself as he held his hands out and witnessed the wear of time. "I was nineteen just yesterday." It seemed like yesterday, anyway. No matter. Inside was where Anna lived, and he was forever young there.

    He was happy to be here though. As sick as he had been for two years and as tired and heavy with age as he sometimes felt, a sudden surge of youth and feeling of liveliness coursed through him now.

    His daughter, Kathleen, waved to him from the top of the lighthouse. "I'm turning on the lights, Dad," she called out.

    He nodded and smiled. It was the ritual. The lights would shine on the pier and then he would focus his wrinkled eyes and maybe see Anna there, dancing once again.

    If he looked hard enough, he could see himself running along the beach ... with her.

    Laughing.

    Holding hands.

    Full of the joy young love brings. No care for tomorrow.

    Just now.

    They would tumble into the surf, kiss, and run some more, dodging the foamy breakers as they rolled in, and then playfully jump into them.

    He had been nineteen, she eighteen....

    It was wartime, but also time for love.

    He turned to look for his daughter, who had brought him home to the lighthouse, and sighed. He wanted just a little more time, just in case Anna had come.

    Perhaps he should turn back to face the pier once more. If his watering eyes could focus well enough, he might imagine her standing there, the way she would each Saturday morning on the antiquated dock.

    He drank deeply of the cool sea air. In his mind's eye she was waving, smiling, the long tresses of crimson cascading down to her shoulders. She seemed to beckon him to join her for a swim once more. She waved. He stood on the hill looking down.

    Should he wave back? Dare he indulge his imagination? He could smile though. She always smiled back—at least in his mind.

    No. He would venture a wave this time. It was getting late in the number of years they greeted each other thus, Saturday after Saturday, his special day of the week to be alone with her.

    He took his cap off and held it high over his head and waved. But she was gone like so many mirages.

    He looked down and upon his lap was the lighthouse journal—the logbook. He moved his hand over the pages, turning them slowly and gently.

    "Then life is not a dream. Love has endured this probation without them. Uncle Billie and Anna were and are real," he whispered to himself.

    "Dad! I'll be right down to get you," Kathleen, his daughter, called from the lighthouse window.

    "No hurry," he offered with a cough and wave of the hand. "I'm fine. Real good," he weakly called back. Real good, he thought as his mind played tricks on him again.

    "Anna? Is that you?" he softly asked as he focused once more on the pier below.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Full of historical facts with a great story line. Very well written

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2011

    Wonderful heartwarming story

    loved this book from the beginning to end

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Great book

    I could not put this book down. I am going to read all of his books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2003

    great quick read

    This is one book I could not put down. It's a facinating story from one generation to the next and back kept me up at night

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2003

    Great Book by a Great Author

    This book was absolutely amazing. I had never heard of the author, or the book, but picked it up on my way out of the library one day. It was absolutely amazing. It made me laugh, it made me cry. I've bought it for a few people for presents, and they thoroughly enjoyed it as well. It's very touching, very dramatic- would make a great movie. It's got a little bit of everything. I would recommend this book to anyone- you WON'T be disappointed. P.S. I've also read all of his other books- and would recommend those as well. He's just a wonderful author who has a way of drawing you into the characters and their life. Great books! Read them all!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2001

    It touched my heart like no other book has.

    This book tottaly changed the way I see life now. This book makes you see things differently the way you see things now. It makes you realize the things you have and makes you not take advantage of them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2001

    Perfect for the emotional type!

    This book is the best that i had ever read. The only part of the book that was boring was when the author spent about 3 or more chapters on the war. otherwise a wonderful book toread during a rainstorm or when eating cookies with some milk!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2000

    Love through the generations

    This book has three themes that the author covers with excellence: The Irish joy of life; the spirit of people who tend lighthouses; and the stories of adversity of real life which can be overcome by enduring love and caring of the human soul. The author weaves these themes throughout the book and you come to know and love these simple people as if they were your own neighbors. I wrote the author to congratulate him on having captured so very well the feelings of people who have for years kept the lights - he has done that - and I should know as for 17 years of my own life I was the daughter of a lighthouse keeper, and the sea as a way of life is something I understand - and this man, this author, also understands that and in turn gives that back to you the reader. Highly recommend this book for reading - and re-reading. I will place this book on the shelf I reserve for books I read time and time again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2000

    A Must Read for Lighthouse Lovers

    I listened to this book on audio. The characters captured my attention on the first side which is rare for me. My emotions were touched deeply by the events depicted, especially for the young wife and child. Will there be more?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000

    'One of the best books I have ever read!'

    This book was one of the best books I have ever read. It kept me interested the entire time. I was sobbing at the end. I will have to read more of Mr. Pratt's books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2000

    Seldom has a book pulled at my heart as Lighthouse Keeper did.

    This delightful story of personal and family trials, tribulations and triumphs will appeal to all readers. James Pratt allows his readers to share his characters' lifes as he introduces the reader to Peter, Billie, Anna, Katie and Kathleen. Life is a struggle but it also has its rewards. As I was reading, I felt empathy for the characters. I laughed with them; I cried with them. I experienced their misery and I experienced their joy. Seldom has a book pulled at my heart and emotions as much as 'Lighthouse Keeper' did. James Pratt has not just written a wonderful story but also a book that teaches a moral. I'm glad that I read 'Lighthouse Keeper'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013

    Just ok

    This book was more about ww2 then a lighthouse. Did not measure up to the reviews.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    I Highly Recommend.

    If you have read The Last (Lost) Valentine and liked it you will like this one too. Great Read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2012

    Anonymous

    I loved this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Highly recommend

    Have liked everything i've read by this writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews

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