The Light Between Oceans
By M.L. Stedman
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781451681734, July 2012, 352pp.)
The Short of It:
An impossible situation set in a beautiful and captivating setting. A story of love and loss. It left me breathless.
The Rest of It:
After four, very long years fighting on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia a different man. After what he’s seen, what he needs is a total break from reality and he finds it in a position as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. For a while it’s just him and the lighthouse and he likes it that way. But after being ashore only a few times and his only contact being the supply boat that comes every six months, he begins to wonder what it would be like to share his life with someone else.
Isabel is a bold, adventurous young woman and after a few chance encounters with Tom, it’s clear to both of them that there is more than just a friendship there. But what concerns Tom is life on the island itself. Will Isabel be able to adapt to the harsh weather? Will she be able to deal with the isolation? But she assures Tom that they will be happy, and they are but after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, Isabel’s view of the island shifts. What was once such a happy place, is now a stark reminder of their loneliness.
When a boat washes ashore with a baby inside of it, it’s clear that the events of that day will forever leave their mark.
This was an amazing read for so many reasons that I have to list them out:
- The setting. Stark, yet beautiful. Stedman did an amazing job at putting me right on the island.
- Tom and Isabel are so likable that when their choices cause them to go the other way, somehow I was okay with it even though I knew in my heart that such a decision would do them in.
- With each chapter, I continued to question what was right and wrong. I don’t think I ever stopped doing that even when I turned the last page. I so wanted to discuss this with a book club because there is just so much to discuss.
- The other characters all play significant roles in the decisions that are made and I loved that. Everyone had a purpose and there were times where it truly felt like a community even though it was a community struggling to do the right thing.
- Not once did I ever question the possibility of such a thing happening. The isolation of the island made it possible and in that sense, played a critical role.
- Once the story gets going I could not put it down. I needed to know about these people and what was going to happen to them.
- Tom. God love him. Such a tortured soul. I wanted to scoop that man up and give him a hug.
Honestly, I could go on and on. The Light Between Oceans had me asking myself what I’d do in a similar situation and although putting yourself under a microscope for that kind of scrutiny is uncomfortable, it was also enlightening. How far will a person go to be happy? How does love change that? Apparently, quite a bit.
Loved this one. I wish everyone could stop what they are doing and read it right now. It’s that good.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Library Thing.
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