Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I was never interested in reading M.L. Stedman's bestseller The Light Between Oceans when it was
first published. Sometimes, it takes a book club to push you to read a book you wouldn't normally pick up. And, everyone who showed up for the group the other night admitted we were glad we read it.

Tom Sherbourne survived World War I physically, but he had memories of the war that he wanted to push to the back of his mind. When he returned home to Australia, he accepted a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a lonely, quiet post where he could listen to nature, and live an orderly, routine life. But, Isabel Graysmark pushed her way into his life, a sly, laughing young woman who insisted she wanted nothing more than to marry him, and have children.

It was Izzy's longing for children that altered their lives forever. Following her miscarriages, she was lost in grief until the day a boat washed up on Janus Rock. The man in the boat was dead, but a baby girl survived. Despite Tom's insistence they needed to notify the authorities, Izzy claimed the baby was a gift from God. And, Tom's hesitation gave Isabel just the time she needed to form an attachment. While Isabel insisted the baby's mother must have drowned, Tom wonders if there isn't a woman somewhere mourning the loss of her husband and child. Now, the man who forced the memories of the war to the back of his mind forces his legal obligations to the back of his mind for the sake of the woman he loves.

When Tom and Isabel keep the baby, their actions affect a number of people. The Light Between Oceans is a difficult story, a tragedy for everyone involved. We all agreed that we had sympathy for all the characters, and could understand why they acted as they did. That sympathy doesn't mean characters always made the right choice. In fact, it's a story about choices, and the consequences.

If, like me, you haven't picked up The Light Between Oceans, you might want to consider this thoughtful, quiet novel. It's a powerful story of lost people suffering terrible pain.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Gale. 2013. ISBN 9781410452573 (Large Type), 553p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Wendy Allex said...

Hi Lesa! Like you, I read this for a book group, and I'm glad I did. I was taking an ethics class at church at the time, and thought this would make a perfect case study. :-)

CindyD said...

One of my book groups read and discussed it and it was an excellent discussion. My other book group has it scheduled for next year.

Carole said...

I read it on my own without the impetus of a book club. I really debated with myself if the decisions were correct. It would have been nice to have some input from others about that. I very much liked the book.

Lesa said...

Carole, I'm sorry you didn't have the chance to talk about it with a group. As you can see, with Wendy and Cindy's comments, as well as mine, it really seems to help to address those decisions when you have a group to discuss it with.