“My parents did visit…They urged me to return ‘home’ now that, as my mother said, nothing held me ‘to the edge of the earth.’ I declined, obviously, and by now my old world is mostly a shimmer of memory beyond the mountains…”
At the tender age of 19, Trudy does the unthinkable. She defies her parents’ wishes and goes her own way, which was a big deal in the late 1890s. Trudy’s life had been meticulously planned: who she would marry, where she would live, what she would do. Her intended husband, Ernst, has been a friend since childhood, easygoing and pleasant enough. They got along well and their marriage would benefit both families.
"Lyrical and as mesmerizing as the ocean itself, this is a haunting novel, at once beautiful and disturbing. The stunning denouement will leave readers wishing for more."
Then one day, Ernst’s cousin, Oskar, meets Trudy, and everyone’s careful planning is derailed. Oskar quickly wins her heart and then whisks her off to Point Lucia, California, from Milwaukee, the only home she has ever known. To Trudy, it sounds like an irresistibly exciting adventure, traveling all the way to a remote lighthouse with her husband. It’s a long way, but at the end of the journey, a job awaits Oskar, along with the promise of a new frontier.
Back then, the world was a far different place. Young women didn’t just run off, especially to the other side of the country. But Trudy has never been an ordinary person. She is a headstrong woman possessed of a natural curiosity that, despite its payoffs, may be her ultimate undoing.
When they land at Point Lucia, the head lighthouse keeper and his family give Trudy and Oskar a welcome that comes across as a bit chilly. The children might be the one bright spot, but they have a tendency to roam free and pop in whenever they feel like it. The apartment provided for Oskar and Trudy by the Lighthouse Service is cold and colorless, and on their first day, it shows no signs that the couple has been expected. The days right after their arrival are extremely uncomfortable and awkward. Privacy is scarce, and the newlyweds feel like they are being closely watched. Oskar’s job certainly has turned out to be an adventure --- just not the kind of adventure they had hoped for.
Oskar has always dreamed of discovering something unique --- maybe something having to do with electricity, or marine life, or even something more sinister. But his continued failures start to wear thin. It’s one thing to be a dreamer, yet another to be capricious and obsessed. Trudy finds herself turning elsewhere to find happiness, but wandering too far from the lighthouse settlement may prove dangerous. Point Lucia has many secrets, and a past that might bear looking into.
From the author of DROWNING RUTH comes THE EDGE OF THE EARTH, a story that explores the inexplicable things we do for love, the ways we cope with disappointments, and how different reality is from the vision we have of our futures. Lyrical and as mesmerizing as the ocean itself, this is a haunting novel, at once beautiful and disturbing. The stunning denouement will leave readers wishing for more.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on April 26, 2013