genre: historical fiction
Off the coast of southwestern Australia, there was a lighthouse. And after his service in The Great War, Tom Sherbourne took a job as its keeper. As the only soul on Janus Rock, his life was orderly, solitary, and followed a specific set of rules that kept himself and every sailor out in a troubled see safe from harm. And then he met Isabel, who brightened his life and, while no longer solitary, his life on Janus Rock was full of joy and expectation for the future. Soon, however, multiple heartbreaking losses for Isabel lead to desperation. And when an infant washes up on their isolated shore in a tiny boat, it seems to be an actual miracle from heaven.
Wanting so much to just have the happy family they've dreamed of, they keep the beloved child, whom they name Lucy, and begin to raise her on their island. But of course, the island is only one piece of a much larger puzzle and soon it seems like the family they've wanted is the result of an even greater grief. But whose grief matters the most? In the story of our hearts, how can there ever be peace when we can't have what we absolutely desire most - or when we get what we want but at a cost too heavy to bear?
If I'd had a sense of how heartbreaking it would be, I'm not sure I would've picked it up, but by a few chapters in, even though I could see how it was going - I was all in. I was invested in Tom and Isabel, in Isabel's pain and unthinkable joy. I was invested in Lucy and how much she would have to suffer for things that were never her fault. I really had to sort through all the ethics of the situation and it made me think of how desperately complicated love can be - whether it is for our own good or not, love will make us do things we would never dream of doing otherwise, both in amazing and terrible ways. I liked how steeped I felt in the Australia of the time, it's seasons opposite of mine, it's almost Old Western feel and especially Janus Rock and the lighthouse itself. It's solidity, it's symbol of a beacon showing the right path - even when in life the correct choice is never so easily discerned.
I finished feeling satisfied, despite the pain we had to go through along the way.