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on October 18, 2012
I feel like gushing, letting the clichés unleash in a flood of unholy praise. Using "unleash" like that? Cliché?

This was a great book. I loved it. First, the setting is novel. As a city girl who (tragically, inevitably) lives in the desert, I found myself wide-eyed and dazzled by Peter Geye's snowy wilderness in the Midwest. Boats! Apothecaries! People named Hosea and Odd! A fish house! What's a fish house?

But it's the story, which is ultimately about survivors. People who make it. Though there is a life-threatening bear attack, I'm talking about other kinds of survival: enduring, persevering, and overcoming personal and historical legacies, the human-centric kind--crossing oceans in search of a new life, getting nursed by quacks or fleeing brothels, suffering from the weight of your lineage or lack of one. Some people go on; others do not. Some people live well; others flounder in their past. I found this book rich in such musings.

I was also jealous when I read it. I want to do this! I want to write intricate prose that sounds like a lullaby, plays in the snow, and weaves history together! Geye does that, you know! The story follows multiple historical narrative threads, and puts them all together (and it's not confusing at all). I was jealous of the complexity and the breadth of the narrative. I had a wave of anxiety when I read this book: I want to be taken seriously like people are going to take this book seriously.

But that's just me: jealous fool.

At any rate, read it. Cliché-time: it's rich, original, refreshing, riveting! I may have to do a little investigation into this fish house-business. Peter Geye, the working title of my next book is SAPPHO EATS CATFISH. Though it's been that way for a while, think of the fish-element in there as a teeny, tiny tribute to your wonderful book. Even if there are no catfish in it.
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on October 15, 2012
I have mentioned in the past that I am too literal a reader for literary books but every now and then I am offered one that strikes my fancy and I take a chance. The Lighthouse Road was one of those books and I was very glad that I did decide to read it. It made me think and I am finding that more often than not I want a book that makes me think. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy fluff but one cannot live on a diet of sugary sweets alone now, can one?

This book is more about relationships and the power some people have over others than about one particular character. It starts with the immigration of a young woman from Norway to a very small town on Lake Superior. Thea Eide's story begins just as she is about to give birth to her son, Odd. She is helped in her labor by the town's doctor, Hosea Grimm and his daughter Rebekah. These four people are the main characters and their histories are told in a series of back and forth vignettes that move from the present time of the novel (the 1920s) to the character's various pasts. I know that sounds confusing and it was at first but once you get into the rhythm of the writing it all starts to make sense.

The writing is spare, much like the cold, forested landscape of Gunflint, MN, itself. Yet the reader is drawn into the lives of these four interconnected people as their souls are revealed bit by bit. Hosea is a man who is in control. Who feels he is giving people what is best for them. Rebekah is not sure of her place in the world that Hosea has created. Thea's world turned out to be nothing like she thought it would be and Odd is the only one who can make it past The Lighthouse Road to see a different life.

I was very drawn into this story; it's one of those books that haunts you for days after you put it down. It will go on my "to be read again" shelf. I'm sure that a second read will garner even more insight into these very well drawn and complex characters.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon September 23, 2012
As in Safe from the Sea, Geye illustrates once more his talent for recreating the past without losing the immediacy of the present in a portrayal of two lives, Thea Eide, a Norwegian immigrant in Duluth, Minnesota in the 1890s and her son, Odd, in the early 1900s, his experiences equally unconventional. An icy landscape, chill air creeping into every crevice, is the setting of Thea's transition from one place to another, the limits of language further severing the interactions of a woman who finds work in the kitchen of a logging camp to survive a bitter winter, the birth of her child - a traumatic event both in origin and consequences- assisted by the local apothecary, Hosea Grim and his helper, Rebekah. Thea delivers a son, Odd, who becomes a rugged and determined individual, albeit prematurely orphaned, developing a complicated relationship with Grim as a father figure and true friendship with boyhood friend, Daniel Riverfish. Over time, Odd discovers that he has a natural affinity for the sea and a skill at hand-crafting boats of his own design

Adapting to life's challenges with surprising grace, Odd's independent nature all but assures his choice of a romantic relationship with an inappropriate woman, one that delivers both love and heartbreak in equal measure, his deepest joy the raising of a son, Harald, thriving in the glow of his father's affection. Threat of the unexpected permeates The Lighthouse Road, the consequences of the arbitrary gathering of individuals often at cross purposes or the casual treachery of a landscape where men, wild animals and nature coexist. In one moment, a scene of perfect harmony exists: a man and a boy ice-fishing; in the next, fate intervenes and tragedy strikes, the image erased. This author's skillful balance of such emotional precipices informs a memorable drama of unique characters excavating the uncharted territory of the human heart. Luan Gaines/2012.
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on August 2, 2014
This is a good story set in the northern Minnesota City of Duluth. The author tells a complicated story of a group of characters related to one another through life's circumstances and hardships. The spirit of love and humble heroism resounds throughout the book. I am enjoying reading it now and await the next adventure the author takes me to.
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on July 18, 2016
This is my second book from this author. I really like the way that he melds two story lines, his richness of detail of life on the Minnesota frontier in the early twentieth century and his expertise about winter, storms, Lake Superior and the hardy people who built a life on the edge of winter. But something is lacking. For all its rich description, the story seems shallow. It slows as it progresses. It ends without resolution. It is worth a read, but still, it is missing something. Sorry, Peter.
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on February 8, 2013
i like the history books and this one combined more of the people side of what it would of been like. But mixed in was the descriptive way of living back in the lumbering days. Boy our ancesters worked hard! The time line made it a challenge to follow along but kept my interest so peaked i had to read the book to find out......
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 30, 2012
Target Audience Breakdown:
Adults: I'd posit that this title might swing a bit towards being preferred by the females in the audience but the rugged frontier aspects make it an interesting read from the male perspective as well. Northern-Midwesterners will be especially interested or those who just enjoy a cold winter.
Children: Oh god no. While your budding adolescent might learn some new vocabulary they would also learn a few concepts you'd prefer them not to.

Like many of my recent submissions this was a GoodReads giveaway. Unlike many of my recent submissions this book is wonderfully and carefully crafted not only in language but also in storyline.

Previous reviewers have complained that the timelines in this book are too complexly intertwined and hard to follow and while I will admit that there is a lot going on, the book very handily states the month and date of each chapter in the page heading. Any reader finding themselves confused can merely consult the top of the page and remember a few key dates. This weaving in and out of history adds great suspense to the whole narrative in a way that would have been difficult to achieve with a straightforward telling. I congratulate the author for having the courage to trust his readers to follow him on his tale just as he presented it. It must be admitted, however, that this will make the movie adaptation a bit more complex should it come to pass.

In summary, Geye's story is a complex one but a wonderfully fulfilling one. His use of language is exceptionally rare in a modern novel intended for a mass audience. It is a treat not only for those who love a complex and engaging storyline but also for those who find the occasional need to drag out a dictionary quite pleasurable.
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on November 5, 2012
Geye captures the flavor of the area and of the characters that inhabit it perfectly. These were rugged folk, and it wasn't all pretty by any means. If you love the north woods, you'll love his skill in capturing the people of that time in our history.
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VINE VOICEon December 24, 2012
I read Safe From the Sea and immediately realized I had found a novel by a very talented writer. The Lighthouse Road is no exception. Peter Geye is able to bring to life complex characters, mixed with an interesting story, and the setting so descriptively written, it is just as much a part of the story as the people.
The main character is a young man named Odd, whose mother came over from Norway to find a better life but ends up as a cook at a logging camp. She dies in childbirth and Odd is raised by Hosea Grimm, who acts as doctor, mayor, owns the local apothecary and turned a logging camp into a town.
Odd falls in love with Hosea's daughter (her life is another story in the novel), though she is much older than him. He builds his own boat so he can take her away from Gunflint. But there is so much that Odd doesn't know or understand.
There are a lot of levels to this work, but it basically comes down to survival and love of family, however that might be defined. I highly recommend this brilliant novel.
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on October 21, 2012
In the first few chapters of this book I was confused about the character relationships to each other. I began again because the story intrigued me. Once I understood these relationships, I could not put the story down. It is well written, great descriptions of time and place. I found myself so involved with the characters. Odd grew and became a strong man with much integrity. High marks to Peter Geye.
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