Secrets of the Lighthouse

A Novel

Secrets of the Lighthouse

Set in Ireland on the wild coast of Connemara, this hauntingly romantic novel tells the story of a young woman who goes in search of her family’s past and ends up discovering her future.

Ellen Trawton is running away from it all. She hates her job, she doesn’t love the aristocratic man to whom she is engaged, and her relationship with her controlling mother is becoming increasingly strained. So Ellen leaves London, fleeing to the one place she knows her mother won’t find her, her aunt’s cottage in Connemara. Cutting all her ties with chic London society, Ellen gives in to Ireland’s charm and warmth, thinking her future may lie where so much of her past has been hidden. Her imagination is soon captured by the compelling ruins of a lighthouse where, five years earlier, a young mother died in a fire.

The ghost of the young wife, Caitlin, haunts the nearby castle, mourning the future she can never have there. Unable to move on, she watches her husband and children, hoping they might see her and feel her love once more. But she doesn’t anticipate her husband falling in love again. Can she prevent it? Or can she let go and find a way to freedom and happiness?

The ruggedly beautiful Connemara coastline with its tightknit community of unforgettable characters provides the backdrop for this poignant story of two women seeking the peace and love they desperately need. For each, the key will be found in the secrets of the past, illuminated by the lighthouse.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 480 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476735382 | 
  • March 2015
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Secrets of the Lighthouse includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Stuck in a job she hates and engaged to a man she isn’t in love with, Ellen Trawton abruptly cuts ties with her posh life in London and journeys to the Connemara coast of Ireland. There, her aunt Peg welcomes her with open arms, introducing her to life in the village of Ballymaldoon and a merry band of aunts, uncles, and cousins that Ellen’s aristocratic mother, Lady Anthony Trawton, has never once mentioned. While struggling to write her first novel, Ellen finds herself inspired and entranced by the ruins of a lighthouse where a young mother, Caitlin Macausland, died in a fire five years earlier. Rumors abound about what truly happened the night of her death, and a chance encounter with Caitlin’s widower, Conor, leaves Ellen eager to learn more about the man and his history. As Ellen and Conor grow closer, it isn’t just the townspeople who observe their every move and gossip at the pub about their burgeoning relationship: Caitlin is also watching Conor and their children, mourning the life she left too soon and yearning see more

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About the Author

Santa Montefiore
Photograph by Elaine Fattal

Santa Montefiore

Santa Montefiore’s books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have sold more than six million copies in England and Europe. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London. Visit her at