Elderly and in poor health, Mary has lived in Hobart a long time. But when a letter is delivered to her house by someone she hoped never to see again, she knows she must return to Bruny Island to live out her last days with only her regrets and memories for company.
Years before, her husband was the lighthouse keeper on Bruny and she raised her family on the windswept island, until terrible circumstances forced them back to civilisation. Now, the secret that has haunted her for decades threatens to break free and she is desperate to banish it before her times is up. But secrets have a life of their own and, as Mary relives the events of her life, she realises her power over the future may be limited.
It seems we hit a common chord with this month’s read. An over-whelming majority of our group found this emotional tale to their liking. The entwined family relations, a long kept secret and the final days of a guilt ridden life played against a stark background of loneliness and isolation, was enough to keep us reading to the end. Although some found the conclusion less satisfying than others.
Mary, the story’s main protagonist, was thought to be a strong woman in a time when young woman did not always have the choices they do today. She lived her life on her own terms, but the guilt that this cost her was an underlying theme throughout the novel. Jean also picked up on a ‘reverse journey’ focus which found Mary’s son Tom struggling to restart his life just as hers is ending.
All this aside, we found the book beautifully written and the storyline well laid out with just enough intrigue to keep the reader happily engaged. All but Delia decided to give this book an eight out of ten score. Delia enjoyed the read but felt it lacked the depth she needs to really reward a book star status, so she could only manage a six!
Still good praise from a discerning group of readers and well worth the effort if you are looking for a summer read.