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Island of First Light cover


Island of First Light

10th Anniversary edition – Revised and expanded including a reader's guide for book groups.

By the time she reached Little Pearl, seawater was already licking at the low points of the reef. She quickened her pace, scrambling over Little Pearl much faster than she had on the way out. When she got to the other side of Little Pearl, she stepped into a shallow depression already filled with seawater. Her sense of panic grew.

Now, with no more outcroppings between her and Alabaster Island, she could see waves already sluicing over the low sections of the reef. Once more, she quickened her pace. She scurried only a small distance when her legs suddenly seemed to have a will of their own. It was as though somebody else was controlling them and she felt herself lurching to the right…. She stumbled and fell, scraping her left knee painfully. She looked at her knee and saw blood. A brutish wave crashed onto the seaward side of String-of-Pearls and she was inundated with spray….

Realizing the water was coming higher all the time and she had to move quickly, she forced herself to her feet and started walking again. At the low spots, she waded along the granite ridge ankle deep in water. An occasional exploding wave threw spray at her, stinging her knee all over again. She had the sensation the reef was sinking under her.

From the novel


Caitlin Gray has come to remote Alabaster Island to escape her troubled family life, which is falling apart because of her husband’s affair, and a horrific car accident.

She meets Freddy Orcutt, an old-time islander who embraces her as a daughter, and O’zalik Mosely, a Native American who is trying to preserve her heritage while battling her own private disturbances.

Caitlin helps O’zalik publish an account of a tragic event that happened to her people many years before, but the islanders become incensed when they are forced to confront their ancestors’ atrocities.

Island of First Light is a portrait of human nature and the sense of family that we all search for when faced with adversity. It’s a tale of the loss of identity of the racially dispossessed, the nature of loss and a woman's journey toward her authentic self, all set against a dramatic background on the coast of Maine.

On Alabaster Island the ocean may appear quite placid, but without warning a storm can transform the blue horizon into icy cliffs, all but obscuring the surrounding islands.

Gautreau brings alive the rugged Maine coast, reflecting a landscape that can be as turbulent as the lives of the people that live there. He perfectly captures this struggle with the elements as a way of life, the fury and the bounty of the ocean and the tough, basically good-hearted folk who understand life at its most basic, New England core.

Island of First Light has long been a favorite of readers’ groups.


“... well and truly told, vivid engrossing and edgy as life can get. The reader cares about the people, about their place ... a tale worth the telling, people worth the meeting. One of the few books I’ve read recently that I read twice – once because I cared so much how it came out and the second time for sheer pleasure.”

The Courier-Gazette

“ ... an absorbing, moving and thoughtful novel, rich in the qualities of character and setting that allow the reader to enter into the lives and moral dilemas he portrays.”

The Historical Novels Review

“... [Gautreau has] a strong eye for detailed atmosphere ... the characters are wonderfully rendered.”

Publisher’s Weekly