When Tom returns to Australia from the WWI battlefield, he's alive and whole but broken inside. He takes a solitary, regimented job on a remote lighthouse, but didn't count on meeting the headmaster's engaging daughter before he set off.
The trajectory of his life is changed with Isabel - suddenly the tiny island of Janus isn't so lonely with a lovely wife and a happy life. Starting a family becomes an exercise in resilience and heartbreak until the day an infant girl and a dead man drift ashore in a boat and they decide to keep the child as their own. On Janus it's easy to forget the impact this decision has on the rest of the world, but eventually the couple discovers the full implication of their deceit.
This is a gorgeous book, emotional and gripping, yet lyrical and dreamy, too. You're lost in the descriptions of time and place, of the feel of the wind and the wonder of the lighthouse's works. It's also rough on your heart because there are no easy answers - everyone involved is fallible and imperfect. There are no true black-and-white answers to this novel's dilemmas.
We read this one for the library's book discussion group, and it was the spark for some very interesting conversation. It's recently been released as a film, and I'm interested enough to make time for that, too, in the near future.