First of all, it dragged on entirely too long for my liking. In the opening pages, the main characters find a baby on the shore of the island where they live (as lighthouse keeper and spouse). Intriguing, sure. But you know that there will have to be some showdown about the baby, and its origins. So then in the next chapter we backtrack all the way before the couple had met. I was impatient to get to “what’s next.” If Stedman had just omitted the reveal of the baby from the beginning, I would have been less impatient. Also, once the conflict happened regarding the baby’s origins, it took entirely too long to wrap it up. There was just too much in the middle bits for my liking: I wanted to get to the point. It was like a Law and Order episode that was inexplicably two hours long. We know there is a mystery, now lets get to it and solve the sucker! It was clear there would be one of two outcomes: they could keep the baby, or not, so dragging it out so long was just tedious to me.
Also, Isabel, the mother. Yikes. She was initially great. A real manic pixie dream Sheila. But then she was mean and selfish and awful. And I didn’t believe she could be quite that awful. But if she WAS quite that awful, then when Hannah offered to give her the baby back (which I didn’t believe either) then she would have taken the baby and ran. There just wasn’t enough ongoing and clear character development for me to believe the character arcs.
Again I would like to reiterate that I went into this book, already thinking it wasn’t going to be for me, and then it wasn’t. I think Stedman is a good writer, and I enjoyed the depiction of the life at sea, in the lighthouse. I normally am not one for rich descriptions, but hers were enjoyable. Ultimately for me where it failed was that I didn’t find the subject compelling, and the characters were just shy of believable. I’m intrigued to find out what others thought of it, and I think it is a good pick for a library book club, so I’m glad to have read it.