Tom Sherbourne has miraculously survived World War I and finds himself in a small town in western Australia seeking work as a lighthouse keeper. He meets Isabel, who becomes the love of his life. They begin a romance, marry and move to the isolated lighthouse, Janus, where they hope to start a family.
After Isabel's two miscarriages and one stillbirth, a canoe washes ashore at Janus and in it is a dead man and a live baby girl. Tom wants to report the dead man and return the baby but Isabel begs him to keep the child. He gives in to her and this starts a cycle of misery for everyone.
This is not a happy story. I have ranked it as a 'beach read' as it flows so effortlessly but, be warned that it is not fluffy or light. The author does an amazing job of bringing the characters with all of their flaws to life and making your heart wrench for everyone. Stedman's beautiful prose will haunt you and make you ponder choices and their consequences and how complex every decision is.