Lighthouse by Eugenia Price

Yesterday I wrote about Eugenia Price and mentioned her St. Simons Trilogy.  Today I thought I would continue the theme and write about the first book in the Trilogy, “Lighthouse.”

“Lighthouse” was originally published in 1971.  It was the third book in the Trilogy, although the first chronologically.  Eugenia started with “Beloved Invader” set after the Civil War.  But as she researched the family, she continued to go further back in time.

“Lighthouse” is a historical and inspirational novel based on the life of James Gould.  The story covers the time from just after the Revolutionary War until the War of 1812.

James Gould was born in Massachusetts and worked as the manager of a lumber mill.  Disappointed in love, James heads to St. Simons Island to find the live oak lumber needed to build the ships for the first United States Navy frigates.  He feels at home in the southern climate and with the beauty of the island.  James heads to northern Florida, in Spanish territory, to manage a saw mill there.  He falls in love and marries a woman who is 20 years younger.  They live in Florida until the Creek Indians destroy his home and lumber mill.

James has always dreamed of building a lighthouse.  He applies for, and receives, the grant to build the lighthouse on the south end of St. Simons Island.  The lighthouse is the first on the island and is built to help ships navigate the channel and avoid the shallows and breakers off the island.  The 85 foot tower is built of tabby and brick in an octagonal shape 25 feet in diameter at the base and tapering to 10 feet in diameter at the top.  Iron chains suspend the oil lamps at the top.  James finished the tower in 1810 and held the position of keeper until 1837.  He lived in the keeper’s cottage for a few years.  Then he moved to an 800 acre plantation on the island called New St. Clair.  Several of his slaves tended the lighthouse after the move.

Along with these historical details, the novel “Lighthouse” examines Gould’s motivations.  Even though James was a stubborn, independent Yankee, he opened his heart to his wife and family.  Eventually he learned to rely on God instead of himself.

“Lighthouse” is an interesting and easy read.  The book describes the island so well.  I could imagine the Gould family at the southern tip of the island next to the lighthouse.  I could see them riding in a carriage along dirt tracks as they traveled to the plantations of their friends.

Have you read “Lighthouse”?  What did you think?