Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
August 22, 2012 26 Comments
Number of pages: 352
First published: 2012
I got this book: from Simon & Schuster via Netgalley (ebook)
Genre: historical fiction
The Light Between Oceans: What it is about
Description from Netgalley: “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.”
The Light Between Oceans: What I thought
While it was a good read, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I read (and loved!) the first few chapters via the BEA Buzz Book before deciding I wanted to read the whole book.
My main issue is with the subdivision of the story. The story stays with a particular time and situation for a while, then moves forward in time. Months, or even years pass between sections. This didn’t work well for me. One problem was that I didn’t get attached to the characters much and therefore, based my judgement on their actions more on an intellectual consideration rather than an emotional point of view based on the main characters’ feelings.
The story deals especially with the question of who are the real parents of a child: the ones that have raised her or the biological parents? And what if the child has only known and loved one set of parents for the first few years of her life? Could you move her to her biological parents just like that? These are difficult and interesting questions that the book tackles well.
The book was beautifully written and therefore a pleasure to read. The feeling of isolation with Tom and Isabel on Janus Rock was very well described. I could not imagine anyone living so isolated but in the past there was no other choice if the light houses were to do their jobs properly.
A slightly disappointed read for me, but still interesting enough to recommend. People that loved The Lifeboat (Charlotte Rogan) are especially likely to enjoy this book, too.
Have you read this book?
Did you enjoy it?