Every once in a while, I see a book on the 'new fiction' shelves at the library that grabs my attention in a big way. This is one of those books, but it has been a reading treat that I denied myself for most of the fall and winter. I was on a mission to get through a list of other titles that had been niggling at me from the stack by my bedside. There were the preparations for the holidays that kept me from really wallowing in that pile of books and the thought of putting one more in the mix to tease me was too much.
Then, my February funk kicked in and I went to ground with my stack by the bedside ... it has been a quiet and engrossing month and my February funk subsided. Suddenly, I had more energy for cooking and cleaning and getting out of the house with my husband. I returned all the reads that had been piling up on the bedside table and thought that I should take a break from so much sitting and get some projects done around the house. Still, this book was niggling at me ... so last week, I finally broke down and brought it home to read.
I knew from the first pages that I was going to love the story, that I'd be falling in love with the main character and all his quiet mystery, that I would be driven to distraction at the consequences of his life-altering decision. There's an old saying about 'no good deed going unpunished' and this story takes that expression and bends it, twists it, and makes it come back on itself time after time. Good deeds are bad deeds are good deeds ... people are forced to confront their decisions and it drives some of them a bit mad, a lot sad, a bit vengeful, and finally ... well, it would spoil the final chapters if I said more.
The book is so beautifully written - full of gorgeous images, soft emotive passages that make you close your eyes and see the world created by Stedman on the backs of your eyelids. They create moods that fill the reader with longing and joy, sadness, fear, and 'pins and needles' anxiety ... can any mother sit still when reading the passage of young Lucy innocently toying with the scorpions that are skittering out from under the log on which she is perched? I think not! There are many more exquisitely worded passages that will make you see that western coast of Australia, size up the cliffs and lighthouse of Janus Rock, and take you right to the space between two oceans and the spaces between the thoughts and actions of the characters in this story. It's a phenomenal read!
Thank you, Ms. Stedman. I look forward to your next novel!
Image by Annette Porter