I intended to review Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert today, but I have not finished reading it. It’s taking me a lot longer to read because it’s not an easy read for me. On Saturday, I suspected that I wouldn’t finish reading it on time so I thought that I would instead review Keeper of the Light. The problem is that I kept going back and forth as to whether or not I should review it. I tend to over-think some things too much, and sometimes care too much about what others think about me.
Keeper of the Light is a romantic fiction, but it’s embedded with lots of lessons that we can apply to work and life. It makes a great case study for why it’s important for us to be transparent and to operate with integrity at all times. It also drives home the point that each of us needs a trusted advisor.
I have read about five books so far by Diane Chamberlain and she writes very well. Her books are often about web of lies and deceit, some of the characters really suffer, and Keeper of the Light is no different, except it also has an element of obsession. It’s a story about love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness and starting over.
As I was reading this book my heart ached and I decided I wasn’t going to read any more of Chamberlain’s books for a while. The story plots and characters are well developed and Chamberlain loves to use flashbacks to tell her stories. In Keeper of the Light, there are many characters, but four main ones, two couples: Annie (stained glass artist) and Alec O’Neill (veterinary doctor), Dr. Olivia Simon (surgeon) and Paul Macelli (journalist). All the characters are flawed which make them human.
Paul Macelli has done a profile on Annie O’Neill and has become obsessed with her. He tells his wife Dr. Olivia Simon about his love for Annie, but stresses that it’s one-sided on his part and a platonic relationship. Paul starts to withdraw from his wife.
In the beginning of the book, a husband goes to a shelter for abused women where Annie volunteers and points a gun at his wife. Annie steps in the line of fire and tries to talk the man out of shooting, but he pulls the trigger. Annie is rushed to the hospital where Dr. Simon works, and she is on duty that night. She works hard to save this gun shot victim and at midway through trying to save her, she recognizes that her patient is the woman that her husband is in love with.
Despite that, she fights to save Annie’s life, but she loses the battle. When she goes home and tells her husband Paul that Annie was shot and died, he completely flips out and packs his bag and leaves. The story unfolds, and many people have put Annie on a pedestal and even call her Saint Annie. Dr. Simon tries to be more like Annie, volunteering at the shelter, and taking stained glass classes because she wants to know what this woman had that she doesn’t have.
A Tale of Two Women
Annie O’Neill came from a life of privilege, but lacked the one thing she yearned for – the love of her parents. Her parents were very wealthy and showered her with money. She grew up to be a damaged woman searching for love and happiness in the wrong places. She gave freely, and was selfless to the point of stupidity. Who steps in the line of fire, what about that fight for survival. However, she was a talented artist. Are the best artists messed up? She didn’t learn that happiness comes from within.
Olivia Simon came from poverty, raised by an alcoholic, single mother, came from poverty. Her mildly, mentally challenged twin brother, Clint and older brother Avery had to raise themselves. Olivia always felt responsible for Clint. One day Avery and Clint held her down while a neighborhood boy raped her – she was payment for some favor. She was 14 years old at the time, and after the rape she ran away and lived with her science teacher who placed her in a different school. She never looked back, and focused her energies on her education. She too is very talented, she is a talented surgeon.
It’s not where you start out in life that’s important, it’s where you end up? What are the critical elements that drive people to succeed, to make something of themselves?
Alec, Annie’s husband is devastated by her death, and is completely bereft. He is zoned out and neglects his two teenagers, Lacey and Clay. Alec meets with Olivia because he wants to understand exactly what transpired in the emergency room. They start to meet and talk regularly to each other since both of them are mourning losses. They are frank and open with each other, except that Olivia cannot bring herself to tell Alec that her husband Paul who she is separated from left her for his dead wife.
Chamberlain’s skill as a writer shows, and her clever use of flashbacks unfolds the story at the right pace. Right before your eyes you discover that Saint Annie is no saint, and as the story develops we discover that Paul and Annie were sweethearts in college. Their bond is a lot stronger than we first thought.
There are a few unexpected twists in the story as well. The big loser in the story is Paul Macelli who left his wife for a dead woman because of an unhealthy obsession. In the end, he comes to his senses and wants Olivia back, but she no longer loves him after his deception and lies. In Jamaica we have a saying that you never know the use of half of a knife until you lose it. This story is something like that.
How many times have we taken people and things for granted until they are no longer in our lives? How many times have we placed people so high on pedestals that when they fall off, which they will, we are devastated. No one is perfect, so these people who we “worship” will screw up.
What’s your obsession? What products and services do you offer that you are so obsessed with that you cannot see that it’s time to lay them to rest? What things are you yearning for that are out of your reach, but you are so obsessed with them that you cannot see the goldmine that is readily available to you?
I recommend Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain. How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Other Diane Chamberlain Books That I have Read
- Breaking the Silence
- Summer’s Child
- The Courage Tree
- The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes
- The Lies We Told
I recommend all of the above Diane Chamberlain books that I have read. The most difficult one for me to read so far was Breaking the Silence. Though her books explore very difficult subject matters, there is always hope amidst despair. Book links are affiliate links.