I can’t believe that after waiting for what seems like ages, I finally got to start this book! It’s been burning a hole on my shelf forever now, and I’ve been really good and not picked it up at all. But it’s a relief for the tension and impatience to be over and to be able to dive into this book.
For fair warning, lots of spoilers for the first five chapters plus preface in this post! I’m going to go chapter by chapter, give a brief summary, and talk about each to some extent.
Tom and Isabel are doing their thing on their little island off of Australia, when Isabel hears cries on the wind. A moment later, Tom pops up, saying there is a boat washed up on the beach. They check it out, and find a dead guy and a baby. Isabel is all over the baby, and she convinces Tom to wait until morning to report the boat.
Okay, nothing we didn’t really know here – that’s basically what’s written on the back of the book. The idea of keeping someone’s baby and dead body to yourselves overnight is a weird concept to me, but we’ll go with it for now. How am I supposed to know what goes through your mind when you live by yourselves on an island?
Jumping back a bit to 1918, we meet Tom, who is doing a job interview to be a lighthouse worker. He gets the job, and does his training and all is grand. He then gets a temporary job on Janus Island, and is sent over to the southwest to work. He meets some people, and they make a game out of getting a lady’s unmentionables. One guy cornered a lady and was trying to get them, but Tom stops it and convinces him to leave her alone. She thanks him, and they go on their way.
So Tom’s got some issues from the war, but he seems to have himself under control, and seems to be a pretty decent guy all around. A bit of a loner, maybe, but he seems cool enough. He steps up when he needs to, which is good.
Extended description of Port Partageuse, and how it was affected by the war, and some great cheese analogies. Tom shows up there, meets a lady, and feeds the birds with her. He later goes to a dinner party with the harbourmaster, and meets a bunch of dreadfully boring people who like to talk about roads. The only interesting person is the lady he fed the birds with, though she implies not to let on that they’ve met.
Port Partageuse sounds freakishly like my hometown in Canada, with the whole small town, everybody up in your business thing. But it also is endearing. I think I could live there.
Okay, there is a person at this dinner party that likes to talk about roads. Not kidding. I guess everyone’s got their thing, but you really couldn’t come up with a better obsessions than road construction? Poor guy.
Tom goes to Janus Island, and makes friends with the guys who work the boat. He gets introduced to the job, and is left there for three months by himself.
Three months is a long time when your only other company is a few animals. I guess it’s a busy job, but even so. I would need a lot of good books to make that work. But Tom seems to like it.
It would be fantastic to live on an island, though. Maybe one a little closer to land than Janus. I actually grew up on an island, but a much larger one. I miss the ocean now that I live in the prairies, so I could totally live on a little hunk of land in the middle of the water.
Tom does his job, and after three months, the boat returns with supplies and a letter from Isabel. She tells him not to get eaten by a whale. He writes her back.
Goodness, it must be a relief to see another human being after three months. Not to mention, you’ve probably eaten all your good food by that point. Tom seems less excited than I probably would be. It must be something to get a love letter (sort of?) after that long by yourself, just to know that someone else is thinking about you, even though you barely know them.
Tom gets to go to the mainland for a while, as his position on Janus Island has become permanent. He goes on some dates with Isabel, and even if he doesn’t admit it, he’s totally smitten. She keeps poking at his past, though, making him all uncomfortable and weird. They talk about having babies, and Isabel is very much into procreation. Isabel wants him to take her back to the island, but he thinks he’s too old for her and that she wouldn’t want that life. She gives him the weirdest kiss I’ve ever read, and then he shows her how to do it properly.
Isabel is that crazy kid who was always too big for the small town that they grew up in. She seems like fun, though. I thought the kissing scene towards the end of the chapter was fantastic and sweet, and as crazy as I think they are, I find myself really rooting for them as a couple.
So that’s it for this week! Stay tuned next Friday for the next five chapters of the book!