Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman
2012, 343p, Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Own a Kindle copy
Content: Mild swearing and one random "f" word

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

As I was catching up on adding some books to Goodreads that I've read during the year, I realized that I never did do a review on this book. It's one of the best books that I've read all year so I decided I needed to remedy that.

As you can tell from the summary, Tom and Isabel live on an island where Tom is a lighthouse keeper. They have plans to start a family but Isabel is having a hard time carrying a baby to full term. She just lost another baby when a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom wants to report the baby but Isabel has other plans. When they head to the mainland a couple of years later, they find out what happened the night their baby, Lucy, washed ashore. Tom is riddled with guilt but Isabel is determined to stick with their original story, no matter what the cost.

It didn't take long to discover that this book wasn't going to have a happy ending for everyone. I have had my own fertility issues in the past so I felt some sympathy towards Isabel for what she had gone through, but was also upset with her for the decision she made. Tom went along with her decision but he was wracked with guilt the entire time. The choices they made had very real and devastating consequences.

I got to the end and was literally sobbing, which then gave me a huge headache. I felt invested in all of the main characters and my heart broke for them and all they went through.

We read this in my book club and it is a great discussion book! The characters are faced with a huge moral dilemma which makes you question what you would do in a similar circumstance. There doesn't seem to be any easy answers but we all did agree that the situation could have been handled better by all parties and would have had a happier outcome. I guess, though, this is ultimately true to life, after all.

About this Author

M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. The Light Between Oceans is her first novel.


Unknown said...

I am sad to say that this book came to me after I had just got done reading a HORRIBLE historical romance, and I got a "foul" taste in my head for anything historical for a while. I started it, and just couldn't get into it. Everyone I have talked to about this book really loved it though. I am keeping it on my back burner for now, since my love for anything historical is beginning to return :)! I am glad you like it! Great review!

Melanie said...

Oh, no, I'm sorry to hear about your horrible book experience. When you're ready, give this one a chance--it's worth it!

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