Genre: historical fiction
Setting: 1920s, Australia
Rated : 4 Stars
Tom Sherbourne has come back to Australia from World War I. Like many soldiers he has brought many demons back with him. He cannot understand why he survived when so many did. Estranged from his father and brother before he went to war, when he returns he has no home to go to. He takes on the job of lighthouse keeper, and after the previous keeper commits suicide he is posted to Janus. Before reaching the island and its lighthouse he meets Isabel. She is, in many ways, the opposite of him. So very alive, young, and full of passion.
You can see where this is going, they fall in love and get married, and move to Janus to start their new life together. All they need to complete the life is a couple of children. But that is not to be. Isabel suffers miscarriages and still births, and all the heartbreak and disappointment that come with that loss. After the stillbirth of their son a boat is washed up. In it, a dead man and a baby girl.
I really liked the writing in this book. Stedman does a wonderful job of describing the setting. The island life, the solitude and the isolation that can also be comforting.
But, I didn’t like the book.
I didn’t get Isabel. I didn’t understand Tom, and it just felt so contrived that I couldn’t take the plot seriously. Not my cup of tea at all, however everyone else seems to enjoy it, so I seem to be alone in my dislike of this book. I would be interested in more by the author, I liked reading it even while it annoyed me. It possibly annoyed me all the more because what I liked I really liked, and so wanted it all to be that good. I’m not sure if that makes much sense, but it does to me.