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'SANTA MONTEFIORE is a superb storyteller of love and death in romantic places in fascinating times - her passionate novels are already bestsellers across Europe and I can see why. Her plots are sensual, sensitive and complex, her characters are unforgettable life forces, her love stories are desperate yet uplifting - and one laughs as much as one cries.'

Plum Sykes, Author, Bergdorf Blondes

'This is quite simply a beautiful read and will make you believe again in love that conquers all'

News of The World

'Now is the perfect time to read this gripping romance...It is as believable as the writing is beautiful'

Daily Telegraph

'Santa Montefiore is the new Rosamunde Pilcher.'

Daily Mail

'A gripping romance….it is as believable as the writing is beautiful'

Daily Telegraph

'Anyone who likes Joanne Harris or Mary Wesley will love Montefiore'

Mail on Sunday

'One of our personal favourites and bestselling authors, sweeping stories of love and families spanning continents and decades'

The Times

'The novel displays all Montefiore’s hallmarks; glamorous scene-setting, memorable characters, and as always deliciously large helpings of yearning love and surging passion'

Wendy Holden, Sunday Express

'Engaging and charming'

Penny Vincenzi

'Santa Montefiore really knows these people inside and out. I couldn’t put this book down'

Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey

Secrets of the Lighthouse / De vuurtoren van Connemara

UK Edition of
'Secrets of the Lighthouse'
Out in paperback April 2014
USA edition of
'Secrets of the Lighthouse'
Out February 2014
Dutch edition of
'Secrets of the Lighthouse'
Out now in paperback

Synopsis

She longed for a fresh start. But her past would not let her go.

Ellen Trawton is running away from her shallow London life and her controlling mother who is desperate for her to conform. Where better than the sweeping landscape of Connemara, to stay with her mother’s estranged sister, in a place she can cut off all contact with the past?

But beneath the wild beauty of the Irish landscape lie secrets which have been hidden for years and a mystery just waiting to be unravelled.

Conor Macausland cuts a dark, lonely figure. His young wife, Caitlin, died tragically at the old lighthouse, and her loss has devastated him. But when he and Ellen come across each other a connection sparks between them. Yet Caitlin’s restless spirit is determined that he should never love another.

Ellen soon realizes that Conor’s past is not all it seems, and there’s more to her family history than she knew too. As the secrets are finally revealed, the truth must be told.

A compelling story of a divided family, hidden pasts and a love that will never die…

Extract

Aunt Peg drove on through the town and out the other side. A mile or so further down the coast she took a turning onto a farm track and motored up the hill between grey stone walls and lush green pastures dotted with sheep, until they reached a pair of modest white farmhouses at the top. ‘It’s not much but it’s home,’ she said cheerfully, drawing up in front of the cottage on the left. Ellen was disappointed. She had rather assumed her aunt would have a bigger house. But it was quaint and picturesque with a high thatched roof into which little dormer windows had been cut and painted red to match the door. There were no trees to protect it from the elements, only the low stone wall, and Ellen imagined it had been built stout and sturdy in order to withstand the ferocious winter winds.

The house might have been a disappointment, but when she stepped out and turned around, the view took her breath away. There, twinkling through the evening mist, was the ocean, and right in the middle, looming out of the twilight like a phantom, were the charred remains of a ruined lighthouse. She stood a moment and watched it. The sun had sunk below the horizon and the sparkling lights of Ballymaldoon could be seen way off to the right, blending with the first stars that peeped through the cloud. Slowly the lighthouse faded as the night and fog closed in around it, and then it was gone, as if it had never been there.

Inspiration for the book

Nothing has greater allure than the eerie ruins of old castles and houses. I spent a lot of my youth in Ireland, doing what we used to call ‘castle-creeping’. I loved the romance of those old, forgotten places and imaging the people who might once have lived there. So, when I was thinking about my next book, a ruined house sprang to mind. Then I remembered I’d already written about a ruined palazzo in Last Voyage of the Valentina and its sequel, The Italian Matchmaker. Still clinging to the idea of a ruined building with a mysterious history, I turned my attention to Ireland. I have written many books based in the West Country, because I spent so much of my childhood there, but I had never written about Ireland where we used to stay with friends in Connemara. I remembered the wild and rugged hills, dotted with abandoned cottages and the wind that rattled through them. I remembered the long, white beaches and rolling waves and I remembered the way it made me feel: exhilarated, wistful and free all at the same time. The moment I thought of Ireland an old lighthouse popped into my head. As soon as I envisaged the lighthouse I saw a woman staring at it forlornly and my story was born.

Having seen spirits for as long as I can remember I felt a strong desire to bring life after death into my story. I wanted to share my experience with my readers and reassure those who doubt that the people we love and lose are always close. Love binds us to each other in an unbreakable bond.

I was completely swept away writing Secrets of the Lighthouse. I listened to the soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings movies. It’s hauntingly beautiful and on a grand scale like the Connemara landscape itself. As soon as I turned it on I was there, in Ballymaldoon with my characters and the charred remains of that eerie and mysterious lighthouse. I didn’t know how it was going to end. I had my idea and I rolled with it. For months after I still had the dulcet Irish tones of my characters in my head! I was so sad to have to let them go and turn my attention to my next book: The Bee-Keeper’s Daughter. I really hope you enjoy Secrets of the Lighthouse as much as I enjoyed writing it.