But Stedman’s writing very quickly sucked me in. Well crafted lines and beautiful descriptions, including some about the technicalities of lighthouse technology in the 1920s, kept me hooked.
But the real story isn’t about the lighthouse. The real story is about Tom, a First World War survivor, and his younger wife Isabel. After two miscarriages and a still birth, one day a small boat is washed up on the island containing a dead man and a living baby. Tom is determined to report this to the authorities ashore, but Isabel is equally determined to keep it quiet and bring up the baby as their own.
I loved the characterization of both the main players. Tom as the older, somewhat tortured veteran of the war, focusing on the routine of the lighthouse to keep out memories of the battlefield. Isabel – the younger kind of flighty and adventurous non-conformist trapped in a small remote coastal town.
“The log is the gospel truth. Janus isn’t a Lloyds station: it’s not one the ships depend on for forecasts, so once Tom closes the pages on the book, it is unlikely that any eyes will glance at it again, perhaps ever. But he feels a particular peace when he writes.”
“Looking into those eyes was like looking into the face of God. No mask or pretense: the baby’s defenselessness was overwhelming.”
There are many other memorable players in this drama and none of them are treated as ‘bit players’. Stedman gives them all of her best!
I won’t spoil your enjoyment by revealing any more of the story, just say umpteen thumbs up!