On the Bookshelf...

There Is a Light That Never Goes Out

David M Barnett

How do you find love . . . when you have the loneliest job in the world? This is the story of Gayle and Martin, who fall in love over the course of ten years- over a yearly visit to a tiny, isolated island off the Welsh coast. Gayle is a teacher and each year she brings her class to the island to see the local flora and fauna, from sea birds to playful seals. Martin, the island's caretaker and only human resident, lives in and maintains the lighthouse, which opens to the public for just this one day a year. Gayle is effervescent but feels trapped, while Martin is lonely and isolated. As their love slowly builds over time, they both yearn for the annual field trip where they can finally see each other... Until one year Gayle doesn't come back, and Martin has to leave his island hideaway to find her.

A disclaimer here. I've read all of David M Barnetts books and everyone has given me a smile, both during and after reading. There is a Light That Will Never Go Out is no exception. I think it's the best he's written since Things Can Only Get Better. In a world that is fractured, broken and cruel, Davids's novels are like beacons of hope.

There is a Light That Will Never Go Out is no exception. It's not like a firework, all power and excitement for a few seconds and then a disappointing end. This story slowly builds into a story that has you engrossed, not noticing the time of day. Martin is a broken character; his life is wandering aimlessly and then in the space of a day he loses his mother, and his girlfriend leaves him. To rub more salt in the wound, he's sacked at work. A friend shows him an advertisement for a Lighthouse keeper. He goes for the interview and gets the job. The next thing he's on a remote island talking to seals. Yeah, kind of a kooky situation, yet it fits with this book.

Gayle has a boyfriend that her mother adores, yet at times you think that Gayle isn't too keen. He's rich but she wants something from life, some purpose, not to be the kept girl. Volunteering as a classroom assistant at an inner-city school she gets to meet children who are less fortunate. It's on a visit to the island that Martin lives that she realises that Martin is her old boyfriend. Yet they only meet once a year when the school visits.

This book is a marvel. There's hope behind every page turn. The style of writing makes this an easy book to read. The author draws you in from the first page and keeps you going. There's no mid book trough to this. The ending is absolutely brilliant. I can in my mind's eye see how this could be made into a film.

This is a five-tower read all the way.

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Review by
AJ Steel
January 5, 2024

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