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The Lamplighter

Maria S. Cummins

Book Overview: 

Gertrude began life as an abused child in the care of Nan Grant, a cold and cruel woman. The only human character who was kind to her was the lamplighter, Truman Flint. When Nan, in one of her tantrums, threw Gertrude away from her house, he took her into his care. A few unforgettable people taught Gertrude everything that a young lady has to know. Almost everybody loves and admires Gertrude. But the one she loved best is Willie Sullivan. Will this love stay strong even after 6 years of separation? And will Gertrude, so admired and loved as she is, be happy - once in her life - for herself and not for others?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .g along so slow, with the sun shining in her face, and he leaning on her arm, and shaking so that he can hardly keep on his feet! Catch me doing it."

"Why, Belle!" exclaimed Kitty, "how can you talk so? I'm sure I pity that old man dreadfully."

"Lor!" said Belle, "what's the use of pitying? If you are going to begin to pity, you'll have to do it all the time. Look,"—Belle touched her companion's elbow—"there's Willie Sullivan, father's clerk: an't he a beauty? I want to speak to him."

But before she could address a word to him, Willie, who was walking very fast, passed her with a bow, and a pleasant "Good morning, Miss Isabel;" and ere she had recovered from the surprise and disappointment, was some rods down the street.

"Polite!" muttered the pretty Isabel.

"Why, Belle! do see," said Kitty, who was looking back over her shoulder, "he's overtaken the old man and my interesting little girl. Look—look! He's pu. . . Read More

Community Reviews

When the story opens, Gertrude or Gerty is an eight-year-old orphaned girl in Boston, MA, who is being raised by a mean widow named Nan Grant, whose late husband Ben was a sailor and whose son Stephen is a scoundrel. Gerty finds a kitten to be her pet, but Nan kills it and then throws the sick li...more

This is a wonderful book! I read the Lamplighter edition first, then found the original unedited version later. It was like reading an entirely different book to read the full version...about a third of the book was taken out in the edited version. There were a few plot gaps in the edited version...more

I didn't even finish this book. At 20% I had completely lost interest not only did a character I love die, the author kept skipping five-ten years every few chapters, making it very hard to keep up with.

Usually I have already decided how many stars I'm going to give a novel by the time I'm halfway through it. This earned a solid 3 stars in my head, because even though it was kind of going nowhere, I liked the characters and especially loved the old English.

But then I reached the last 10 chapter...more

This read started out a bit tedious for me, but I fell in love with it by the second half! I never thought I'd be so biased, but it was such a relief to actually feel good about reading this book-and that's because it's American. No horrible random racism thrown in to make me feel sorry about lik...more

"If I had not had sorrows," said Gertrude. "I should not know how to feel for others; if I had not often wept for myself I should not weep now for you."

"It is only through the darkness of the night that we discern the lights of heaven, and only when shut out from Earth that we enter the gates of...more

This is a beautiful story that follows Gerty's life and its many twists and turns with the childhood of poverty, girlhood of opportunity, and womanhood of uncertainty. The characters are beautiful, the writing is high quality, and the plot is surprising yet satisfying. This is a classic not to be...more

The Lamplighter, one of the more popular books in the country when it was released in the mid-19th century, is an engaging story of an undisciplined and unloved girl who has her life transformed, by Providence, through the love of strangers, whose ties to her are greater than anyone initially sus...more

Going in, I expected this book to be a lot more about Gerty as a little girl than as a young woman. I was a little disappointed that we skipped over so many important formative years--although by the end, I agree that the story didn't need to be stretched out any longer than it was! However, I ap...more

Another one of my favorite period pieces. I have read it numerous times and listened to it read aloud. This story is one I will treasure always and hope to pass on to my children someday.

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