In a fictional community at the southwestern tip of Australia, we meet Tom, a lighthouse keeper and WWI veteran who is haunted by the trauma of war, and Isabel, a lively, bold, adventurous young women who has a comfortable life in town.
An unlikely courtship brings the two together and when Tom takes a posting as a the lighthouse keeper of Janus Island - little more than a rock in the middle of the ocean. Marriage to Isabel soon follows, and the population of Janus island doubles overnight.
As a lighthouse keeper, Tom takes comfort in the routine, regularity, and rules of his trade and is meticulous in his work. Isabel, more surprisingly also easily takes to life at the lighthouse, bringing a lively sense of home to their isolated, remote abode.
I really enjoyed this book. It's writing style was captivating - it seemed like the author just let her characters live out their lives and she simply recorded it. I would read for hours on end and it was hard to put down. While the characters make decisions that I don't always agree with, I think one of the book's best features is that it inspires soul searching in the reader and it proves how there are many blurred lines between right and wrong.
Does this book make me travel to Australia? Yes and no. I was disappointed to learn that Janus Island was fictional, but I still really love the idea of novels that explore the unexamined corners of the world and rural southwestern Australia after WWI certainly fits that bill. You feel like you have a real insight into the community where the novel is set. On the other hand, this book could have been set in many other countries (maybe eastern Canada?) and, save for some minor adjustments in dialect, there is nothing distinctly "Australian" about this story. That being said, I would still recommend it. I really enjoyed the story, the author's style, and the fact that she looked at a remote corner of a well known country.