Extraordinary debut novel!
Stedman’s debut novel is a compact study in highly charged emotions evoked from strong images of a bygone era. The author’s place descriptions and talent for developing unique voice and perspective drawn from each character’s point of view made me a captive reader from the first pages. Stedman hits on a theme that resonates across ages and oceans. When a person has the best of intentions and is able to rationalize why a bad idea can be good, the consequences will often catch up. Stedman’s main characters, Tom and Isabel present us with just such a story.
Tom, a veteran of the trenches during the Great War returns to shore from his isolated vocation as a lighthouse keeper. He meets Isabel and is awakened again to the the possibility of experiencing a happy life. What plays out on Janus Rock, the location off the coast of a West Australian port, turns out to be a tragic end to happiness in the lives of more people than Tom or Isabel could have imagined, including their own.
I found Stedman’s writing craft to be “top drawer.” This author’s ability to evoke emotion and thought from a reader is a rare talent. I’ll be including this one as one of my top 5 read this year and likely among the top 5 for the decade – we’ll see. There are still a few years remaining in this one and Stedman might just pull hat trick and wow me with another extraordinary novel.