Skip to main content

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter

1. What was your response to the opening scenes of the storm and the rescue, especially when Sarah Dawson left her children behind?

2. Despite her undoubted bravery and her part in the rescue of the Forfarshire’s survivors, Grace Darling was a reluctant heroine. What surprised you the most about her reaction to her fame?

3. Reading a novel based on real events can affect readers in different ways. Had you heard of Grace Darling before you read the novel? What is your reaction to her story?

4. Duty versus desire is one of the themes of the book. How did you respond when reading the scenes with Grace and George Emmerson? Do you feel Grace was right to deny her heart in order to devote her life to her family?

5. Sarah Dawson is the generational link between Grace and Matilda Emmerson. How did you respond to Sarah as a character in the novel?

6. The book touches on themes of separation, loss and finding your place in life. In what ways did you relate to the various characters and their struggles?

7. The unique bond between parent and child, particularly mothers and daughters, is also explored through several of the characters in the book. Which relationships particularly resonated with you and why?

8. Do you enjoy reading books written in a dual narrative? Did you have a preference for one time line over the other? If so, why?

9. Matilda’s story reflects that of many unmarried pregnant girls in Ireland in the 1930s. What was your response to her journey from disgraced daughter to determined young mother?

10. As the final scenes in the hurricane unfolded, who were you rooting for and why?

11. Have you ever visited a lighthouse, or would you like to? What is it about lighthouses that fascinates us so much?

12. In many ways, this book is a celebration of women. Who is the most courageous woman you know and why?

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter
by Hazel Gaynor