I was really excited to read this book because the movie looked really good. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I know by the book that it’s going to be sad! I felt like Bilbo Baggins reading this book, “I feel like butter that’s been spread over too much bread”. In other words, I felt like the story was a great concept, but it was stretched out and didn’t have enough plot points to drive it home. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it, and thought it was well researched and written. But there are only so many ways that you can say, A couple living in a lighthouse finds a baby washed ashore and they torment themselves over what to do.
Tom Sherbourne returns from the war to Australia. He finds a job as a lightkeeper, which is perfect job for him because he’s an independent man, not wanting for much. One of the previous lightkeepers suggests to him that he find a wife or he might go mad out there alone. This is sort of foreshadowing—Tom is just fine when he’s by himself, but once he and his wife find the baby washed ashore with her father’s dead body, they slowly begin to go crazy with worry, fear, and guilt.
Tom’s wife, Isabel, has suffered so many miscarriages and one stillbirth. They’ve all but given up their dream of having a child, when they find the baby they come to call Lucy. Isabel begs Tom to keep her, despite his better judgement.
This is when the book starts to stretch and tug too tight over the conflict. I think the author did a very thorough job of detailing all the emotions Isabel and Tom experience while having Lucy in their possession—on the one hand, they want keep her for their own, but Tom knows in his heart that he needs to tell someone ashore.
The real plot twist comes when they go ashore for the first time since finding Lucy, when she’s about 2 years old. They learn of Hannah Roennfeldt, a woman stricken with grief over losing her husband and 3 week old baby. They were never found. I won’t give anything else away, but it does have an interesting ending.
I wish this novel had more plot twists in it—I think it would have held my interest better. Instead, the author focused more on details and the emotions of the characters. It’s not bad, just different. I’m interested in watching the movie and seeing if it stays true to the book.