After World War I, Tom Sherbourne takes a job as lighthouse keeper on isolated Janus Rock, off the coast of Australia, where the supply boat comes only four times a year. His spunky wife, Isabel, suffers two miscarriages and a still birth in three years, so it's no surprise that when a boat washes up carrying a dead man and a live baby, Isabel persuades Tom not to report the incident and takes the baby as hers. That causes trouble, of course, when they eventually return to the mainland. Big in-house excitement for this first novel, which will be backed by NPR coverage and a reading group guide. Tops on my reading list.[Page 93]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In Stedman's compelling, heartrending debut novel--infused with the symbol of the lighthouse as guidance and shelter--quiet, thoughtful Tom returns home to Australia after World War I and seeks refuge as a lighthouse keeper. Isabelle, a high-spirited young woman who is ruled by emotion, works her way into Tom's heart and joins him at his remote outpost. Although they yearn for a family, after three years and three lost babies, the light in Izzy's eyes has dimmed. Then, inexplicably, a small boat washes ashore, bearing a dead man and a tiny but healthy infant. Is this the answer to Tom and Izzy's fervent prayers? They must quickly choose whether to keep the baby as their own or to report it to the authorities. Years later, in another, faraway lighthouse, the story circles around to a satisfying conclusion. VERDICT Stedman's engrossing, emotionally driven novel sensitively treats the issue of loss and how we learn to live with its aftermath. Fans of Anita Shreve or Elizabeth Berg will enjoy being swept up in this novel. [See Prepub Alert, 2/20/12.]--Susanne Wells, MLS, Indianapolis[Page 75]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In Stedman's deftly crafted debut, Tom Sherbourne, seeking constancy after the horrors of WWI, takes a lighthouse keeper's post on an Australian island, and calls for Isabel, a young woman he met on his travels, to join him there as his wife. In peaceful isolation, their love grows. But four years on the island and several miscarriages bring Isabel's seemingly boundless spirit to the brink, and leave Tom feeling helpless until a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a living child. Isabel convinces herself--and Tom--that the baby is a gift from God. After two years of maternal bliss for Isabel and alternating waves of joy and guilt for Tom, the family, back on the mainland, is confronted with the mother of their child, very much alive. Stedman grounds what could be a far-fetched premise, setting the stage beautifully to allow for a heart-wrenching moral dilemma to play out, making evident that "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." Most impressive is the subtle yet profound maturation of Isabel and Tom as characters. Agent: Susan Armstrong, Conville & Walsh. (Aug.)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC