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Having spent a number of years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne on returning to Australia accepts a job of lighthouse keeper on the remote island known as Janus Rock; the ideal place for him to deal with his memories of a troubled childhood and PTSD resulting from the experience of war. In Australia, Tom meets and marries his young wife, Isabel and together they move to the island, where the only visitors they receive are those sailing the supply boat that arrives just once a season. Despite her young age, Isabel is a bold woman and displays her true love for Tom. Their attempts of having a child fail, resulting in a number of miscarriages and a still birth. When a boat is washed up onshore containing a dead body and a crying baby, the urge for Isabel to nurture this child and claim her as her own is overwhelming. Her hormones are raging and here begins the journey of deceit and heartbreak.
Tom, influenced by Isabel’s misplaced intentions, agrees to go along with the story that the child is theirs. Personally, I found this a difficult decision to accept as he was a man of very strong principles, but I guess his love for Isabel and her strength of character and influence overwhelmed him. When they next return to Australia with ‘their’ child who they name Lucy, the story takes another twist when the real family of the child is discovered and the mother is still grieving for her.
I found the book an easy read, and was quickly drawn in to the story and totally engaged in the twists and turns. This was due to the story of the child and Tom and Isabel’s decision, remaining well and truly at the heart of the story, and I was able to keep my focus on that and not be diverted by spin off events or other story lines.
Whilst I enjoyed the book and felt that it was well written and presented a highly emotional story in a very engaging way, I was constantly distracted by the fact that they had made the decision to keep the child at all. As an outsider looking in, I could only see the endless opportunities for discovery of their secret and the heartbreak that would follow. I could never see myself making that decision, and for that reason I found it hard to understand why Tom would have been persuaded to go along with Isabel’s plan, regardless of his love for her. As the story unfolded I had a sense of ‘told you so’ that I found it hard to let go of. However, I totally appreciate that the dilemma they faced and the emotional decision that they made is the crux of the story and is at the same time what makes it so intriguing and engaging.
It is an impressive debut novel and I would certainly be interested to read her future books.
Let me know what you think, I’d be interested in your thoughts and views.