Monday 11 June 2012

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

Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M. L. Stedman
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: 31st July 2012
Pages: 354
Format: E-Book -PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: ARC from NetGalley

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In 1918, after four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia to take a job as the lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes only four times a year and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Three years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel is tending the grave of her newly lost infant when she hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up on shore 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 dead man and the infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim the child as their own and name her Lucy, but a rift begins to grow between them. When Lucy is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world…and one of them is desperate to find her lost baby. (Goodreads Synopsis)

This is a very poignant and heart-felt story with real emotional depth. The book centres on the idea that decisions, even those made for all the right reasons, can have terrible consequences.

Tom and Izzy were both well written characters. I found their relationship a little forced at first, but with the arrival of Lucy, you really started to understand the two of them better. Stedman gave us just enough background on each of them for us to understand their motivations, but did not fall into the trap of long exposition.

The lighthouse is almost a character itself and I loved the wonderful sense of place and the feeling of isolation throughout the tale. Janus is almost a world unto itself and that adds further to decision Tom and Izzy make at the start of the novel.

The dialogue felt a little 'heavy' at times, but the prose was excellent - captivating and atmospheric - and the story held my interest from start to finish. At one point I thought I was going to be disappointed at the way it all ended, but then Stedman resolved the book in a way I found pleasing.

This book is a great read for fans of Literary Fiction.

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