“Audio book performed by Noah Taylor.
Isabel and Tom Sherbourne have made their life on isolated Janus Rock … a small island about 100 miles off the coast of Australia, at the confluence of two oceans. Tom mans the lighthouse, ensuring the safety of ships at sea. They love one another and are anxious for a family, but Isabel has had two miscarriages and their latest child was stillborn at seven months gestation. Then a miracle happens. A small dinghy washes ashore, with a dead man at the helm and a tiny baby in the bow. One decision leads to another and before they know it they are enmeshed in a web of lies.
I admit I was expecting a lighter, historical romantic epic, but Stedman delivers a wonderfully complex psychological study of love – between a husband and wife, parent and child. This is a story of a couple pulled in opposite directions and yet somehow striving for the same goal. Tom loves his wife and would do anything for her, but what Isabel wants requires that he goes against all he believes is right.
The twists and turns of the story had me mesmerized. Central to the plot are issues of forgiveness, loyalty, ethics, compassion, and revenge. Stedman poses several moral dilemmas. To whom do we owe our loyalty? Does Tom protect his wife’s fragile psyche or follow his conscience and the rules and regulations of his government job? Does he love her enough to give her what she wants? Can he forgive her for what she’s required of him? Can she forgive him for going against her? How far will parents go to protect their child?
The reader is constantly wondering … Might she …? Could he…? Would she…? What would I do in their place? I think this would be a great book club discussion book.
Noah Taylor does a good job with the audio, but his Australian accent was difficult for my American ears. I was really happy I had a text version to check for those scenes where I simply could not understand his pronunciation. I think he handled the various characters reasonably well, including the women and little Lucy.