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The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni

GeniMiranda’s life focus is nature photography.  She is pleased to spend a one-year residency on the Farallon Islands, a remote, rocky archipelago off the California coast.  The few human inhabitants are scientists, studying the wildlife through the seasons.  The year is formed by studies of the life cycles and habitats of shark, whale, seal, and bird. 

Geni’s skill as a writer makes nature, setting, elements, and animals come alive on the page. The beauty of this harsh place is realized through her descriptions.  “I will never forget the first moments of my arrival….Long ago, this place had been called the Islands of the Dead.  Now I could see why….The other islets were bare, bald, and broken….The shores were streaked with seaweed, the peaks fragmented and craggy.  The islands were arranged by height, like wedding guests in a snapshot.”  Geni writes of the setting in detail, with a naturalist’s interest and with a photographer’s eye. 

The other focus of the novel is the lives of the seven people isolated on the island; they share work, meals, and leisure time in a small cabin.  Miranda is the victim of an assault soon after she arrives, and her assailant is found dead shortly after that.  There is little boundary between the natural and the human worlds.  Loss and violence are constant themes in both, and add to the aura of mystery in the novel. 

Geni writes a multi-faceted and brilliantly revealed story through Miranda’s voice and vision. The reader sees through the lens of her camera, reads the unmailed letters she writes to her mother who died when Miranda was 14, and reflects on her internal thoughts and fears. 

Geni is a Chicago area writer, and The Lightkeepers is her first novel. She has written an equally fine book of short stories, The Last Animal For more information on her works and local appearances, and also for information on the Farallon islands, visit her website: http://www.abbygeni.com/ 

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