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on 4 December 2016
I have been waiting for the film to be released so I could go and see it but thought why not read the book beforehand. I have mixed feelings about the book. It started out drawing you into the story explaining about the characters and their lives. When the boat is washed a shore with the baby in it I can understand why the characters take her in as their own. Then the story centres around the main characters and the baby and their life on Janus. When they go on shore and Tom encounters the baby's real mother a woman whom he had helped in the past the story starts to get a bit drawn out about tom's feelings of right and wrong. I found the book a bit long winded after this as I could not understand why tom felt he had to do what he did, why didn't he leave things alone as his life had been perfect. The ending was very quick and a bit flat. I .oved the book at the beginning but a bit disappointing near the end. I did not cry but I might if I go see the film version.
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on 9 February 2016
I confess to feeling a little frustrated with this book at the beginning. It starts with Izzy and Tom finding a baby, together with a dead man, in a boatmthat has been washed up on their isolated island. Then we find ourselves going back 10yrs or so to what happened to Tom in WWI, how he got his job on Janus Island (a bit too much about lighthouse regulations for me!) and how he met Izzy. I didn't want to know any of that ... I wanted to know about the baby and what they were going to do with her! So I'm afraid I 'skim read' those chapters so that I could get back to the present day (which was actually 1926). After that I couldn't put the book down; I just had to know what they were going to do. Don't want to spoil it by giving too much away but I felt great sympathy for Izzy, and for Tom too ....... And I had to keep reminding myself that others might be suffering as a result of their actions. How would any of us react if we were in their situation though? A heartbreaking story where you know there are foing to be 'winners and losers' ..... How wrong of me was it to want Izzy to be one of the winners???

I believe this is being made into a film ... will look forward to that!
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2016
This was a book of two halves as football commentators (almost) like to say. I found the first part somewhat hard to engage with but ever since I read Anne of Green Gables as a child, I have learned to persevere even if I don't immediately like a novel. But I had to persevere for quite some time. There was a lot about being a lighthouse keeper and how to do it, lots of description of the island and not very much else to begin with. I found this a little tedious and I almost gave up several times. It livened up a little once Tom and Isabel found the baby but even then...

However the part of the book that deals with the consequences of what Tom and Isabel have done is terrific. It is full of tension as you genuinely don't know what will happen and the emotions depicted are spot on (I'm trying very hard not to give anything away here!). Tom, in particular becomes a very sympathetic character and you really feel for him.

So 3.5 stars from me (2 for the beginning, 5 for the end)
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on 23 November 2016
The film was just out at my local but I didn't want to spoil my reading
of the book, so I gave the film a miss.
I've just put the book down in a flood of tears as I turned into the last
few pages.
Tears for goodness sake!

Oh but such emotion, such a pulling in one direction, and then another;
you can feel for all sides, the crushing pain and emptiness of irretrievable

A child lost - a child found. A simple equation that will strip your thought
waves, and dare you to choose which way you're going to lean, and as
it all comes to the inevitable gut-wrenching finale, you can feel the emotion
of it all as it suddenly bites.

And those final pages?
If you're teetering on the edge by this point, if those tear ducts are weighing
it all up, these final pages will simply open up the floodgates.

And the story?
Just about a silly old Lighthouse in the middle of nowhere, and crashing waves,
and a boat that washes up ashore, with a baby girl aboard.

And if you believe it's all as simple as that......
Think again!
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on 23 September 2016
Tom and Isabel live a happy but solitary life on Janus Island where Tom is the lighthouse keeper. The only blight on their existence is Isabel's desperation for a baby. When one morning a boat washes up on the shore with a dead man but a living baby Isabel and Tom make a decision that will have consequences not only for them but for Isabel's family in Partaguese and Hannah, the baby's real mother.
This is a novel of decisions, consequences and human nature. It is an emotional tale of love, loss and the blurred lines between right and wrong.
The writing is very atmospheric, and the characters well rounded. There is a lot of attention to detail in the authors description of both people and places. I really like thee historical detail of the lighthouses and how they were run in the early twentieth century. The character really do attract the reader's empathy to the situation they find themselves in. I found it made me think what I would do in their situation especially as I was torn between the two sides of the story. It is an innovative and intelligent storyline full of emotion that will stay with you long after you finish the book.
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on 14 September 2016
I should say at once that I haven't finished this book, its therefore possible that I could yet be disappointed. Half-way through I am just loving it. The writing is fresh, but feels right for the period. The characterisation is sparingly drawn, we learn about the main characters from their daily lives. The evocation of an isolated island is exquisite. But essentially this appears to be a story of guilt and redemption set during a time when religious belief was stronger than now. Think Thomas Hardy, and Tess of the d'Urbevilles, Jude the Obscure or the Mayor of Casterbridge, these are the kind of novels that this reminds me of. It feels patronising to say so, but this book is well written and well edited. I haven't wanted to miss a single paragraph, not been irritated by poor grammar, exaggerated description or poor use of vocabulary. As a reader from England I have not found the use of Australian idiom at all off-putting. It really should have international appeal. I'm sorry a film has been made - I can't believe it will do the book justice -this is not just a plot.
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on 10 October 2016
This is a slow-paced book, adopting the rhythm of the flashing steady beam from the lighthouse where much of the action takes place. Perhaps that is the wrong word, for in fact there are very few events that amount to action. This is a book about the way that human beings respond to certain situations, and then slowly but inexorably bear the consequences of decisions made.

It is easy to see at what point a different, wiser decision could and should have been made, but who could have ignored the demands of the heart? Not I, I suspect.

Decent, ordinary people wrestle with moral dilemmas, not always of their own choosing and while they can't all live happily ever after, the ending is satisfying. An excellent read, very moving.
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on 26 September 2016
What a beautiful story - totally blew me away ! I loved every word of it. I read the description and was very curious after seeing such great reviews.
The story is just so completely riveting and told with such emotion, humour and relatable descriptions.
I won't give anything away but I really had no idea how the story would develop or end so I found it captivating and didn't want to put it down. It's a long time since a book captured my emotions with such force and made me cry. I felt like every character affected by the situation was well considered and a lot of thought went into how each person would/could react as the story unfolds. Definitely highly recommended and I can't wait to see the film version now.
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on 17 March 2014
I wanted a book for Book Club that was fairly recent and written by a woman so I looked at the Women's Prize for Fiction list from 2013 and found this. It is one of those rare occasions when I find myself in total agreement with all the extracts of reviews inside the book. (I should say it got a slightly mixed reception at Book Club!) I was totally fascinated by the weaving of a love story with brilliant historical detail about life in the world and rural Australia in particular, leading up to and following WW1. There is a bit where the 'hero' remembers being on burial detail in the French trenches and the way the buriers ended up being pleased at finding bodies with bits missing because there was less to carry. It was really shocking and incredibly moving. The story shows the limited options for women, the various ways in which men (and their families) are damaged by the war, the anti-German feelings that are fed by cultural and geographical ignorance (not unlike people who think Sikhs are Muslims/terrorists), the petty resentments of men who didn't go to war, and a very moving love story. It's difficult to say anything about the moral dilemma without giving anything away and it's also hard to understand it if you aren't willing to understand the social context in which it is all set - and that includes the idea of living on a lighthouse 100 miles away from land with barely any contact with people. I found it utterly heartbreaking and just had to sit on the sofa, when I finished the book, with tears running down my face and unable to move. Possibly not a choice for you if you are close to infant death. Otherwise, I can't recommend it highly enough. It is beautifully written and one of the best books I've read for a long time.
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on 24 July 2017
A friend recommended this book, knowing my preferences and I was blown away by it. Such a difficult decision to be made from the beginning following so many heartbreaks, all perfectly understandable, logical......and wrong. So much love to give and to be taken away. So many regrets. This is a beautiful story, well written and wrings your heart out.......a must read.
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