Narrator: Noah Taylor
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on July 31, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction
Length: 10 hours, 21 minutes
Audio | Goodreads
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
Light keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife, Isabel, live in isolation on Janus Point in Australia in 1926. When her third pregnancy ends with the child stillborn, Izzy is devastated as her first two had resulted in miscarriages. Seemingly miraculously, a boat turns up with a crying infant and her obviously deceased father. Tom and Izzy make a decision in that moment that will forever change their and many others’ destinies.
What a beautifully written story for such tragic circumstances. Whatever you might think intellectually of Tom and Izzy’s decisions, the emotional constructs were brilliantly delivered to give you pause before judgment. Izzy often seemed self-focused and cruel but when you considered where she’d been, it made more sense, like it or not. Tom is a complicated man, deeply affected by his participation in the war on the Western Front. His love for Izzy is unquestionable but he’s a man conflicted by his own moral compass. Their love for baby Lucy and hers for them will pierce your heart.
I loved how the author created such a strong sense of place, both with the setting and characterizations. The isolation of Janus Point was palpable and the contrast between it and “nearby” Partageuse was subtle but profound. It was a small town but with an interesting community of families, connected but disconnected at the same time. I was challenged by all of them.
Initially, I struggled with the narrator who seemed to mumble in monotone. However, as I progressed through the story, he became an element of it, artfully portraying the personality of the characters and setting. I recommend hanging in there because he seemed well suited for the story in the long run.
I loved this book and can’t seem to stop thinking about it and the characters. It’s a must read.
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Reading this book contributed to these challenges: