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****Lighthouses of France

The Monuments and Their Keepers

photographs by Jean Guichard

text by René Gast

translated and adapted from the French by Susan Pickford

Reviewed February 3, 2004.
Flammarion, 2002.  144 pages.
Available at Sembach Library.

When we were in Scotland last summer, our Bed & Breakfast on the Isle of Mull had a stunning photograph over the restaurant table where we ate.  It showed a man standing calmly outside a lighthouse door with an enormous wave coming around both sides of the lighthouse about to engulf him.  Another photo on the opposite wall showed a wave taller than the lighthouse itself.  There was a caption to say that the man got inside in time and survived.  The pictures kept drawing our eyes and provided us with many topics of conversation.

This book is the project for which those two memorable pictures were taken, and it turns out that there are many other striking photographs as well.  I was delighted when I saw this book among our new library books.

Lighthouses of France is mainly about the photographs taken of lighthouses all around the coast of France, especially offshore lighthouses.  Soon after the pictures were taken, many of those offshore lighthouses were converted to work automatically without a keeper.  The book tells about the history of lighthouses, the traditions of the keepers and the harrowing work they do.

The text of this book is not long, as most of the large pages are taken up with stunning photographs of beautiful lighthouses.  What it does tell helps you understand the incredible story of the lonely, difficult life of a lighthouse keeper.  A wonderfully fascinating and beautiful book.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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