Published: July 31, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
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 and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, 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, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. 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.
Again, I'm probably one of the last people--or at least one of the last book bloggers--to read this. I have no excuse--especially since this has been sitting on my beside table since my mother gave it to me 6 months ago. But, man, I wish I'd read this earlier.
This is another one of those (rare) instances where a book actually lives up to all the hype surrounding it. This was apparently an Oprah book--which doesn't necessarily make me think I will like it. Slightly more often than not, I do not enjoy her picks. But this one had me all in.
I think part of my reaction to this book had to do with the fact that I am a mother. I haven't read many of the other reviews on it yet (I usually don't check out reviews until after I've written my own review), so I don't know if someone who is not a parent would have a different experience of this book. But, as a mother, this story cut right to my soul.
The entire plot hinges on a decision made by Tom and Isabel. Did they make the "right" decision? Probably not. However, I can't say that I wouldn't make the same decision if I found myself in the same circumstances. That's the thing...none of these characters are "bad" or "good," they are just human. I can't say I rooted for or against any of them and, while there were times that Isabel infuriated me, there was never a time that I couldn't relate to her.
I truly adored everything about this book--the plot, the characters, the writing--and even found myself tearing up (okay, sobbing) at the end. Really, if you haven't read this, just do it. Now.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.