Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Exile of Sara Stevenson by Darci Hannah


MAY BE SOME SPOILERS......

Love, mystery, secrets, betrayal, ghosts, letters, smugglers, Scottish history and life in the 1800's.....Sara Stevenson was a privileged Scottish lass who wasn't one to conform to the norms of Scottish rules for young ladies.

Her father was a famous lighthouse engineer and had Sara accompany him on a boat trip when she was 18 years old. While on the voyage, she fell in love with one of the sailors who of course was not of her social rank. Her father suspects this love affair and is completely against their relationship since he has another wealthy man in mind for Sara.

Sara gets herself pregnant by this sailor, and her father banishes her to Cape Wrath which is a remote place on the northwesterly point of Great Britain north of Edinburgh, Scotland. Cape Wrath had terrible weather no matter what season it was and is a place that had no luxuries Sara was used to. Sara, along with her maid, Katie, and the maid's husband, Robbie, endure the life at Cape Wrath. Sara has to cook and clean which is something she never had to do. Sara yearns daily for Thomas, her lost lover. She hasn't seen him since they planned a never-to-be elopement.

Sara, Katie, Robbie, and Mr. Campbell, the lighthouse keeper, are four of only a few inhabitants living there. A few cottages are also on Cape Wrath. Sara and her maid venture out one day during an awful snowstorm to find their neighbors because Sara is feeling so lonely and isolated. They take off on horseback and do meet a woman that they befriend and who will trade cooking lessons for learning how to read and write.

The woman they visited (Mrs. MacKay), her husband, and their two children appear at the lighthouse one day and Sara finds out some things about Mr. Campbell during a heated argument with Mr. MacKay. Apparently Mr. Campbell and Mr. McKay had some sort of mariner disagreement last fall and Mr. Campbell "lured" him and his family to the lighthouse to try to make amends.

Meanwhile Sara and Mr. Campbell develop some sort of trust relationship, and Mr. Campbell knows he has the responsibility to keep Sara safe and take care of her during her pregnancy. One morning a package and a letter arrive at the dock from a man named Mr. Seawell, and this brings more mystery about Thomas and why he never showed up the day they were going to run away. Afterall, Thomas said he loved her and would move heaven and earth to be with her. Sara writes back to Mr. Seawell questioning about Thomas and the watch that was in the package....the very watch that Sara had given Thomas and had inscripted a lover's message on the back. Sara asks Mr. Seawell to shed some light about Thomas and if he is alive. They began a correspondence that tells of Mr. Seawell's life and Thomas's life.

After all the tension about the package and letter and also a letter to Katie from Sara's mother, Sara takes off from the lighthouse and goes to Mary MacKay and her family because she is disgusted about what she finds out her family had written to Katie and something about Mr. Campbell. Sara stays for a week, and Mr. Campbell is fuming about this visit since he is to be taking care of Sara according to Sara's father who had made these arrangements before Sara's original arrival.

Another letter was in post at the jetty when Sara returns from the visit, and she begins to become suspicious about who is really sending her these letters. The letters, Sara, Thomas, and Mr. Seawell make the ending confusing, unbelievable, but unforgettable....terrific writer.

You will enjoy the book, and I want to end my review with this quote that is from Page 56, but rings true until the end of the book: "But all too soon it came back to me, and once again I found it hard to sleep at night knowing he was out there....somewhere."

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