Book Review and Giveaway: The Nymph and the Lamp

Author: Thomas H. Raddall
318 pages
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
ISBN-10: 1551095769
ISBN-13: 978-1551095769

It is only fitting that I follow up my review of Jane Eyre with another longtime favourite, known to some as “Jane Eyre’s conservative Canadian cousin.”

The Nymph and the Lamp was written by Halifax writer T.H. Raddall and originally published in 1950, becoming one of Canada’s most popular novels in its day. The story begins in Halifax, but is set predominantly on Sable Island, known in the novel as Marina.

Isabel Jardine, the heroine of Raddall’s novel is an orphan, in her mid to late twenties, working as a secretary in the Marconi Depot in Halifax. She lives alone in a rundown boarding house at the end of Barrington Street. Not particularly pretty and already viewed as an old maid, Isabel has long ago stopped waiting for romance. She meets Matthew Carney, the Operator in Charge of the Marconi Station on Marina, when he makes a rare shore visit. Overcome with surprise when Carney asks her to dinner, Isabel says yes, despite not being particularly attracted to him, and his reputation as a bit of an oddball.

A little false advertising, but I do love this cover. Yes this is a scene in the book, but a minor one.

Through a bizarre series of events, including being accosted by a drunken neighbour, disgraced and thrown out of her boarding house, Isabel agrees to marry Carney after only three days, and travels with him to begin a new and lonely life on Marina. Enter radio operators Skane and Sergeant, and the other inhabitants of Sable Island in the 1920s: the live-saving station workers and their families. And of course, a love triangle. Two love triangles, to be precise.

Now, I have always been a sucker for historical fiction, and more particularly so when it is a local story. Behind the love story, the novel is full of interesting tidbits about the history of Sable Island, the shipwrecks, the horses, the Marconi wireless system, and Halifax during and just after World War I. There is even an excursion to the fishing outports of Newfoundland. I have read and reread this book many times, and love it more every time.

I don’t want to say much about the outcome of the story, except it does have a few remarkable similarities to the Bronte novel, despite being a very different story overall, and definitely not a feminist tale. But really, I want you to read this one for yourself. And to make that happen, I am making this post into my first giveaway on Leave a comment below telling me about your favourite historical fiction novel. One lucky reader will be randomly selected to win a copy of the 2006 edition of The Nymph and the Lamp, from Nimbus Publishing. Good luck.

* Contest open to readers in Canada and the USA only, and open until April 30, 2011 at 11:59:59 Atlantic Time.


17 thoughts on “Book Review and Giveaway: The Nymph and the Lamp

  1. Hi Natalie! ^o^

    Thanks for the review, I enjoyed reading it and you totally made me want to read it sooooo much! I am a sucker for historical novels, too, especially Jane Austen and Alexander Dumas.. My top favorite novels are: Pride and Prejudice (Austen) and The Count of Monte Christo. I also LOVE Stendhal and Marquez!
    I studied literature, so I could really talk about these books until I drop 🙂

    Anyhow! A WONDERFUL contest! I am super excited to enter 🙂
    My mail: evieseo(at)gmail(dot)com

    And, wow! This is a Canadian writer and I’m from Canada! How exciting is that?!

  2. “Jane Eyre’s conservative Canadian cousin” – I’m in! Thanks for the giveaway! I don’t really have a favorite historical fiction book, but I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, most stuff by Ann Rinaldi and Scott O’Dell, The Earth Kitchen…

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

  3. Hi Natalie!
    I am your neighbor! Well, I live in Port Huron, Michigan! We have the Blue Water Bridge crossing over to Sarnia, Ontario! I also have a cousin, Lisa, same age as I am, who lives in Nova Scotia and her parents, my cousins also, live in New Brunswick! I just saw my cousin Lisa as she came in for my Uncle’s 90th Birthday Party – my Uncle is her Grandfather. I am very familiar with Canada!
    I LOVED your review of The Nymph and the Lamp! You did GREAT! I signed up to Follow You!! I will enjoy your posts, I can tell by the way you write! GREAT job!
    Come and click on ‘Follow Me’!!! at my Blog! I have 3 book giveaways right now and NEED and WANT followers!!! The addy is:
    After you ‘Follow Me’, leave a comment after my review on The Scent of Water! Leave your name and email addy! The giveaway is through Sunday, April 24th, Easter! Winners will be chosen by on Monday, April 25th, and you’ll be contacted on Tuesday, April 26th if you are a winner!
    Hope we can become friends! My passport is still good through 2014!! My hubby does not have one, though, and he is the driver. Read my profile and you’ll see why I can’t drive. It would be great to meet with you if you live in Ontario – we’d be so close!

  4. My all time favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. Really anything by Jane Austen!!

    The Nymph and the Lamp looks very good, something I would love to read. Thanks for opportunity to win a copy.


    • P&P is the only Jane Austen I have read, but I did love it. Just can’t seem to get into anything else by her, but no doubt I eventually will. I don’t always warm up to a book right away.
      Good luck & thanks for entering.

  5. Yay! WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is my fave historical fiction, so I’m very interested in seeing the movie, which (of course) won’t be as good as the book.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

  6. My favorite historical piece of fiction is Ahab’s Wife – set in the time of Boston whaling. I’m drawn to seaside settings, islands and a theme of isolation in particular. I read 99% Atlantic Canadian fiction and despite being born in the same hometown as Raddall, I have not yet had the pleasure of reading this gem. Even if I don’t win, it is being added to my “must read” list!

  7. My favorite historical fiction book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
    Right now I’m reading “The Queen’s Fool” by Philippa Gregory and really enjoying it. But “Pride and Prejudice” will always be at the top of my list. Love, Love Mr Darcy.
    Always looking for a new book and your review has made an impression to put “The Nymph and the Lamp” on my list of books to read.
    Thank you for the chance to win giveaway.

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