My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Set in 1920’s, Tom is the survivor of World War One and wants nothing more than to have the calm order of being a lighthouse keeper as a job in the remote wilderness of the Australian countryside. He meets Isabel and her open and lively spirit wriggles its way into his heart and after a strange courtship they are married.
Isabel and Tom have suffered yet another devastating loss of an unborn child and Isabel is pushed beyond her coping abilities. A small boat lands on their island home of Janus Rock in the Indian Ocean with a dead man and a new born baby on-board. Then the decision of a lifetime is made; to keep the baby or not.
This book is not so unfathomable as one might first imagine. After years of infertility I too would wish that I could find an abandoned baby, so often reported on television news, so I could claim it as my own. One can only imagine what living in such isolation did to a grief stricken Isabel as she dealt with miscarriages and still births, desperate for a child of her own.
This is a novel about moral choices and at its core is the ability to make you care for characters that due to misplaced faith, choose to believe that a baby has been supernaturally given to them rather than follow the moral decision to send the child back to the mainland. It was never a malicious decision to keep the baby, just one that came from the depths of despair.
One cant help but question Tom’s love and loyalty to Isabel in revealing the truth of his daughter and its easy to understand in no uncertain terms the morality of guilt he displayed in contacting the birth mother, thus destroying his wife’s life. A classic six of one, half dozen of the other.
There is only one clear plotline, and there are not a cast of thousands in supporting roles. But the story is dealt with honestly, at times painfully and makes you question the rights of a child. Sadly its still a situation that happens today when surrogacy goes wrong.
This is a complex, tender story. Wonderful. Four and a half stars really.