It's About: Marriage and family. The story is set just after WWI in Australia and on the Island of Janus. Tom is a decorated war hero that takes the job of the lightkeeper. Internally, he deals with abandonment and the morality of his war actions or, in other words, he has his baggage. On his leave, he meets Isabel. She is a pretty, young thing that captures his heart for better or for worse. They marry, but cannot have a family. Isabel has two miscarriages and delivers one child stillborn. Isabel loses her mind. The two of them are all alone and lonely on this island with no ther civilization and both seem to be just ever so slightly off balance. This would have been a good time for them to leave the lightkeeper post and find civilization and perhaps some mental health therapy. They don't and strange things happen. A boat washes ashore with a dead man and a little infant that is very much alive and needs care. The job of lightkeeper requires Tom to record every, single activity that occurs on the island in a log book. Isabel convinces Tom that he does not need to record the arrival of the baby - at least right away. Tom, duty bound, struggles greatly with the decision because it forces him to dig a hole - both figuratively and literally. He now cannot record the arrival of the boat and hides the evidence of the man's body by burying him on the beach. He does this because he is so deeply in love with Isabel and sees how badly she needs this baby that has appeared out of what seems no where. It is the decision that will forever shape their lives with its far-reaching consequences.
I Thought: Regrets and Resolution. The book is ultimately about regrets we all have with some of our choices in life. At the same time, the book is about resolution. The author does a magnificent job with giving the reader a full circle: The plot has action, regret, consequences and resolution. Sometimes a story that tries to do the full circle can become one of those books that is all tied up with a pretty bow, almost too simplistic or not realistic. This book is not that. It is the full circle of life with all of the scars and wounds still in place at the end of the story. I finished the last page with a deep sigh of contentment. I found I wanted to sit with Tom and Isabel on their porch and have a cup of tea with them. They have a powerful story to tell of marriage - for better or for worse.
Right and wrong can be like bloody snakes: so tangled up that you can't tell which is which until you've shot 'em both, and then it's too late.
Put right the things you can put right today, and let the ones from back then go. Leave the rest to the angels, or the devil or whoever's in charge of it.
Piece of advice, Blue -- never try and work out what's going on in someone else's marriage.
We live with the decisions we make, Bill. That's what bravery is. Standing by the consequences of your mistakes.
You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things. I would have to make a list, a very, very long list and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a very proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic! No -- his voice became sober - we always have a choice. All of us.
There are still more days to travel in this life. And he knows that the man who make the journey has been shaped by every day and every person along the way. Scars are just another kind of memory.
Soon enough the days will close over their lives, the grass will grow over their graves, until their
story is just an unvisited headstone.
Recommendation: You cannot go wrong with this one.