Grab the book, grab a Kleenex, say adios to the family for at least the day.
M.L. Stedman’s debut effort (What IS it with debut books, lately?) is astoundingly good and well worth your time to read. The story of lightkeeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabelle in early 1900s Australia, it will only take a few pages for you to become completely immersed in their lives on Janus Rock.
Tom is a war hero, Izzy the only remaining Graysmark child after Vi and Bill’s two sons die at war. So before you go judging Izzy, put yourself in her shoes for just a few minutes–you’re the only source of hope and happiness for your mother and father, who are taking the loss of their sons hard. Girl’s had it tough, OK?
And Tom’s life pre-Janus isn’t much prettier—brought up by the strictest of fathers after his mother abandons the family, you can only imagine how he feels about being a father. He’s determined to do it differently.
Life would have been much easier if only Izzy could have had her own children. Then she wouldn’t have to keep someone else’s. And there goes the main plot—Tom and Izzy and the repercussions of taking something that doesn’t truly belong to them, no matter how much love is involved.
The book is very much in the same vein as “The Snow Child”—a childless couple in a harsh environment that suddenly find themselves caring for a child. And it’s the same raw emotion that powers the reader along to the devastatingly heartbreaking, but bittersweet end. This is going to haunt my heart for days.
The Light Between Oceans
I’ve been wanting to read this one but haven’t yet. However, there really has been an unusual amount of excellent debuts this year (Tigers in Red Weather, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Seating Arrangements, The White Forest, Wilderness, etc.).
Don’t forget “The Snow Child” too! I have “Seating Arrangements” on my library queue … now I need to check out the others you mentioned.