Returning to Australia from the Western Front in 1926, Tom Sherbourne, is a veteran of WWI. Trying to come to terms with the horrors he experienced overseas, Tom is drawn to the solitary life of a lighthouse keeper and begins his career learning the trade from taciturn lighthouse keepers on their lonely outposts along the coast. While on leave from his first posting, he meets Isabel and soon they begin their life together on Janus Rock an isolated lighthouse on the coast, their only visitors, a supply boat that comes every six months. At first the young couple are happy and they explore the island making it their own, but after several miscarriages Isabel becomes depressed and lost, and Tom begins to wonder whether their solitary life can continue.
One day while tending the small graves of her lost children, Isabel hears a cry and finds a a boat with a squalling baby and a dead man in the cove below. She decides that this is the answer to her prayers and takes the baby in as if it were her own. Tom, less certain of the morality of that choice, fears the consequences to Isabel and to their life together if the child is given back to its real parents. And slowly and incrementally the choice is made and they pass the child off as their own, with only a passing thought to it’s real parents and family on the mainland.
Steadman writes in such a poetic and lyrical way, that you are drawn into this story, and with each choice and each lie that follows you know that this will only end in heart break for someone and yet you are unable to look away. As it becomes harder and harder for Tom and Isabel to sustain the lie, they must make new choices that are even more heartbreaking.
This book was a wonderful story, told very well. The characters were real, and their pain understandable. It was a hard read, however, with many tissues needed, and I found it sometimes difficult to see the page for my tears. But Steadman has created a great story where we can clearly see the how our choices do matter, causing ripples effects on other people’s lives in ways we cannot imagine.
Brenda’s Rating: ****1/2 (4 1/2 Stars out of 5)
Recommend this book to: Sharon, Marian and Keith
Book study Worthy: Yes!
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