This book, a debut effort, by Ms. Stedman could have been a maudlin mess in lesser talented and measured hands. Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia after 4 traumatizing years on the Western Front and takes a postition as a lighthouse watchman. He craves the solitude and isolation while he wrestles with his memories of war. When he is sent to perform a relief stint on Janus Rock off the western coast of Australia, he makes a chance meeting of the impetuous and beautiful Isabel. Not long after the position becomes a full-time posting, Tom and Isabel marry and begin their new life. It’s not an easy one, out there on their own. Not only are Tom and Isabel polar opposites but as the years go on, they suffer two miscarriages and one stillbirth. While Isabel is burying their stillborn son, she hears the cries of a child on the wind. It has to be her imagination. But there it is again and soon Tom is shouting that a dinghy has washed ashore with the body of a man inside. The cries persist and they find an infant wrapped in a woolen sweater in the bow of the boat. What they do next sets things into motion that will change the lives of many people and test the boundariues of their love and sanity.
Ms. Stedman writes vividly of the landscape of Janus Rock, where the Indian Ocean washes into the Great Southern Ocean and of the community of Partegeuse on the shore of Western Australia. Her characters are very real and sometimes deeply flawed but you can’t take your eyes off them. I got so angry with Isabel but thanks to Ms. Stedmans deft hand, still had sympathy for her. Glad I stumbled across this book in the checkout line.